Living Independently After Maria

Ray Bernoff

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15.3% of Puerto Rico residents under 65 have a disability, a rate higher than anywhere on the mainland. About a third of those people, it reports, have trouble with basic tasks like bathing and dressing. And Puerto Rico’s disabled population was especially vulnerable to the havoc wrought by Hurricane Maria.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that, of the 4,600+ deaths that resulted from Maria, a third or more happened because of interruption of medical care. During and after hurricanes, the authors wrote, the elderly and people with chronic illness are especially likely to suffer and die. Without electricity, dialysis machines don’t work and refrigerators can’t keep insulin cool. When debris blocks roads, people can’t get to hospitals or pharmacies.

To read the rest of Ray’s report, please click here.