The Deletion Of Puerto Rico Recovery Statistics Went Viral. So What Happened?

Did social media save the day?

On Thursday morning, two critical statistics illuminating how dire the situation is in Puerto Rico were deleted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website. The statistics disappearing sparked speculation online about why FEMA would remove the statistics and whether it was an error or the organization was trying to conceal what critics have said is a slow recovery process in Puerto Rico. 



Wednesday night, the FEMA website showed on its Hurricane Maria relief page that just five percent of the island had electricity and only half of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water. By Thursday morning, those numbers were gone, despite being updated more regularly on www.status.pr, a Spanish website run by Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

In a statement to A Plus, FEMA spokesperson William Booher noted that the statistics still appear on Gov. Rosselló's web page (today, they say 9.2 percent of the island has power and 54.2 percent has access to drinking water). 

"FEMA officials provide response and recovery updates in a variety of ways, to include through daily press conferences, news releases and social media posts," Booher said. "The Government of Puerto Rico provides information on the status of infrastructure on its publicly available website (http://www.status.pr) that we regularly use as a source of information for our reports. "

He also added that FEMA would be putting the information back on their own website after a slew of news reports and viral social media posts covered the removal.

"While some information was not included in yesterday's update to our website, at no point was the data not publicly available," Booher said. "Reports suggesting an effort to 'remove' any data points are simply erroneous. To avoid any further confusion, this information will be posted on our Hurricane Maria website going forward, and will include a link to the Government of Puerto Rico website."

Still, the absence of the statistics from the FEMA website has garnered widespread criticism online. Tweets revealing that FEMA removed the numbers have received thousands of retweets and concerned citizens think that the lack of information could lead people to believe the situation is improving when it may not be. 

Thanks to the sharp eye of those following the story online, the temporarily removed statistics have now sparked a whole new wave of attention onto Puerto Rico, which can't hurt.

With so many people still without power, critical infrastructure like hospitals are struggling to keep patients safe. Food supplies will not last as long without refrigeration, and much of Puerto Rico's crop was destroyed by the storms. 

If you want to give a hand, there are plenty of ways to step up. If you're financially able, you can donate to organizations like Global Giving Foundation or United for Puerto Rico, which are both sending money directly towards hurricane relief efforts. GoFundMe has also launched an entire page dedicated to charities and funds that you can browse and pick from.

Cover photo: Shutterstock / bakdc

More From A Plus

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.