The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been adjusting Hurricane Maria statistics on its website in a way that has made it difficult to track Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts, Vice News reports.
The island was hit hard by the hurricane three weeks ago, and it is still struggling to access basic necessities. More than 80 percent of the island remains without power.
Narratives of the recovery’s progress have differed. President Donald Trump has declared it a success while local politicians, like the San Juan mayor, are saying that not enough has been done.
The death toll currently stands at 45, though some have even questioned whether that number is accurate.
The Environmental Data and Government Initiative, an organization dedicated to monitoring federal agency websites and archiving government data, has tracked how FEMA has been reporting its progress and discovered some discrepancies. Data on how many Puerto Ricans have access to power and clean water has been removed. They have also scrubbed information on the number of hospitals that are still connected to the power grid.
These adjustments that make progress hard to track allow for the Trump administration to push its narrative of a successful recovery. A FEMA spokesman told Vice News that information on the recovery can be found in numerous other places, but failed to explain why specific data has been removed.
But Trump is already antsy to remove FEMA representatives and the military from the island. He took to Twitter on Thursday to warn that FEMA and the U.S. military can’t provide aid to hurricane-battered Puerto Rico “forever.”
Trump said Congress must decide how much money the federal government will spend and noted that “electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.”
You read a full breakdown of FEMA’s website changes here.