« Reveal

The Tide is High

2018-01-06 | 🔗

The damage inflicted on the United States by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria will likely make the 2017 hurricane season the costliest in our history. But what is the government doing to prepare for the storms yet to come.

In this hour, Reveal goes to Texas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico to investigate the government policies that let people build in harm’s way, make it difficult to move them to safety and fail to accurately tally the dead.

Head over to revealnews.org for more of our reporting.

Follow us on Facebook at fb.com/ThisIsReveal and on Twitter @reveal.

And to see some of what you’re hearing, we’re also on Instagram @revealnews.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey. It is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now, for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restore. We, about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it is our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs. Are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars? Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists. This kind of investigative,
it takes time and it cost money. If you believe in the work, we do the absolute best way to support us is by becoming a member of reveal to do it just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven standard data rates apply and you can text stop or cancel at any time Also, all new members who donate at least five dollars a month, we get our facts, t shirt again just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven and all you who already support our work. I would offer a deep sincere thanks. We can't do this work without being willing afforded twenty twenty. We have big things plan, so, let's go to some good work together. From the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal our latin. So about a year ago we had a chance to look into the future. Specifically this future hurricane Harvey
State of emergency we're not measuring and inches of rain. We're measuring and feet of rain Harvey the most powerful hurricane in state. Since John F Kennedy was president, is now a massive probable storm. The city of used in suffered the worst flooding in its history from Hurricane Harvey. When people talk about it today, they use words like unprecedented unimaginable, but we want to take you back in time nearly a year before the storm hit. When we talked to a guy who saw some of that flooding coming flooding. That was entirely preventable. You're gonna have a bubble up a rigid long works for the. U S: Army core of engineers, meanest teacher producer, based at the Texas Tribune, drove around with him back in October of twenty. Sixteen We're gonna, take a ride up the slope. Richard drives his White Ford, pickup truck thirty five feet up the steep earth, damn so steep
means a little nerves, ill do without any issues. Ok, a few seconds later were a couple of days, you're looking into the reservoir right now, looking down from the damn into the Barker Reservoir mean it doesnt, sea water. Instead, it looks like a giant park. We have dear bobcat people read rating We have sought to feel that your ball feel shooting ranges. If you look at, Houston on Google MAPS there to massive patches of green way. Western downtown one is the Barker Reservoir. Richard Nina are looking into right now, there's another one, just like it near by God: attics there was called dry reservoirs. They only Philip doing really big rainstorms and the idea is to collect rainwater here, so it doesn't flood downtown, Houston, richest job
is to make sure the twenty miles of earthen. Damn surrounding the rest. Wars hold all that water in place. I've had some people call me as I hate my kid can't play soccer, get the water all my sacrificial. Did they realize their soccer felt it actually a reservoir? While you have to buy a german some on getting this more than soccer fields and saddles resorts to make that point. Richard drives just a few minutes away to what looks like a typical Houston suburb, sidewalks, two story: houses with big to car garages and a few scattered apartment buildings. Her work on the inside the reservoir right now. Here's apartment complex on the intolerable we're inside back we are inside the reservoir, not not on government property apartments inside the reservoir. How can it be well when these projects went up back in the nineteen forties, the army core built them
so that a total of fifty square miles of land would flood behind those earthen dams, but they only bought thirty eight square miles of time. Didn't matter, because hardly anyone lived out there. It was mostly rice farms in ranches, but eventually developers bought that extra land and they build houses and apartment buildings mean asks the people who live there now do they know they live in a resolute most or not. Is it a secret? No, it is not a fight, they just don't serve. We ever go to maximum flood. These guys are order in our first George. Maximum flood is exactly what happened. Ten Slater. Tropical storms Harvey now a history making disaster in a few weeks after her.
We need a way back to see what happened to those apartments. She takes the story from here. I is our kind of driving down. They shut it down is that the goal of flooded, I'm back in the same neighborhood and it looks completely different. The whole apartment complexes cordoned off windows are covered in plastic. Workers are walking around and white cover all eventually, a supervisor drives up to the front gate. To talk with me, I they're good I'm a reporter. Was the flooding here really bad for sixty four to six feet? Sorry, recording! I am reporting! Therefore, we have to be careful because we can release information from the property without authority. That's the end of it. He asked me to stop reporting thanks a lot
I want to know if residents around here realized their living inside a reservoir and upon a street called lock mere lane. Almost all the houses here flooded too. There are heaps of drywall furniture and wet carpet on top of manicure green lawns. People are home cleaning up there? our rapporteur with the Texas Tribune. Yes and I'm workin drive around these neighborhoods to talk about what they ve been doing with wide open, This isn't how Anita bunting usually receives visitors she's holding a bag of trash behind her. The walls of her first floor are totally ripped out and answer drying what used to be her living room! I'm standing on this piece of cardboard honour front! Steady! Do you love my lovely welcome at my original welcome? It is long gone Anita tells me more than a foot of water sat in the house for weeks. Its unlivable right now and for the more
they're doing a lot of the repairs themselves. You pulled Oliver SL, I was all that would from now on and short, while there were getting clothes, but out of what we can afford. All the damage is gonna cost, at least a hundred thousand dollars the bunny. I don't have it like many people here they never bought, fled Torrents. Their county government doesn't consider them to be in a flood plain because their far from any rivers or creeks, Anita husband, Tom, says that was a big selling point. When they moved, I never wanted to live anywhere near or purchase a home that would be in a it's been weeks. Since Harvey and the burning still don't know their houses actually inside a reservoir. I pull out a twenty five year old document. I got from the local property records Office in Fort Ben County. It's called a plot, a big map developers have to draw up when they build a new neighbourhood. Local, a fish
we'll have to sign off on each plant before developments allowed to go through, but most homebuyers never see it. These are general notes on this document and do so I wanted to do something is designed to the fund is too small for a needed, a red, so her daughter, Meredith reads it instead, oh my, I think, are the ardour to whom this subdivision is adjacent to burgers of war. It is subject to extended controlled, in an day shoe extended, controlled inundation under the management of the. U S, army core of engineers is what the rest of the sentences. In other words, your property, could be flooded for an extended period of time, but that's not the whole story, when the Platte says this subdivision is adjacent to Barker. Reservoir duchess means its next to the government on portion.
Remember there's a lot of land designed to flood that the army cord didn't buy in the nineteen forties back, then it was rice fields. Today, it's their neighborhood, the army. We are told us that its accurate to say that your homes are inside Barker Reservoir, while not just not adjacent but enzymes issues key. According to our analysis, their home is one of fourteen thousand inside the barker in attics reservoirs, more than five thousand of them flooded during Harvey. How is it that people like the bindings could buy a home and never be worn? that hate by the way this house was built, insider reservoirs and one day it might flood. We found a real ter SAM Chaudhry who sold more than fifty homes, here, a lot of them in a neighborhood called Grand lakes on marble hollow unsolved, caught Columbus falls.
These are our names, a street where you sold homes and grandly. Absolutely absolutely do you ever do ever. Give your clients the platte. Do you ever see the platte? We actually give them something better. We actually have The survey down a survey is a newer map and it's supposed to have more information about a particular property. Sam says: plots are old, used, mostly, developers are building a neighbor had not one someone's buying home, but when SAM those me, the survey theirs, thing on their about Barker Reservoir, footnote according to farm that adopt this property is in zone exe and does not live in a hundred year. Floodplains is this what you are required to? Are you required to give the buyer the survey buyer actually buy, They pay five hundred dollar for this thing, four hundred to five hundred dollars. For this thing, actually I have the Platte four Grand lakes. Here I shall SAM where the tiny fund is and is subject to extended, control inundation under the management of U S, army
so engineers. What exactly does that mean? It basically means Grand Lakes is actually designed to flood in a situation like Harvey. Really it's behind these dams. In essence, Grand Lakes is inside the reservoir. So if it is inside the reservoir, how would they approve these plans? I wanted to know the same thing to try and get an answer. I went to see this guy Here? We are again I don't know why you guys want to talk to me. You should be tired. By now, I've been to Steve Costello's office a lot over the past couple years. People call him the floods are and he works up. On the fourth floor of Houston City Hall, he helps direct policy to protect the city from flooding Steve if he knew that homes in the huge scenario sit on land designed to flood by the army corps I wasn't pay much attention to be candid, and not quite If I really knew that much about it. The guy in charge of flooding policy in Houston is
I mean he didn't know. There were thousands of homes and these reservoirs. He says all those homes were built before his time. I don't know when the developments occurred is not like they occurred yesterday. They ve been there for quite a long time. I pull out a plan D. Steve. It's the same one I showed Realtor SAM Chaudhry. This plot was approved in two thousand for, and it actually has Castello if there on the corner. So. That's your engineering development firm wrote those engineering firms, family, wasn't boy with he's being modest, Steve Castello, founded Castello Ink and was president of the firm until twenty fifteen even as I'm, showing him as Platt he's still doesn't seem to understand that its in the reservoir, it's outside the gunman online, even though it out, the government on land it still inside the reservoir, it still in a part of the land. That's designed to fly
I have that information was available at the time that these developments would occur. D probably wouldn't happen. The developer window developed as light, except I point out to Steve. The formation was available at the time it's written on the very poor. But his engineering firm, worked on. They were within the flood Parker run with own version work on the project, but it was my from their work. They have ass other engineered the developers even fair and firm. You could ask affirmed people to work on the project we go back and forth. This for a while. Eventually, stew just says he doesn't want to look backwards. He also says the city of Houston can't fix this alone. The reservoirs extend into the outskirts, Houston, which means county governments are also responsible. My name is Barber I've been I judge and forbidden carry since two thousand three, I'm in my fifteenth year laughed the title. Kind of a weird Texas thing: Bob a bare doesn't have judicial powers he's just the top elected official in the county.
Maybe, as everything worked out, when the built backdoor they wouldn't taken more steps. I dont know I wasn't there, I'm not I'm not occur politician. I just order stepped into this job when my predecessor had a heart attack. In fact, our reporting shows that thousands of homes went up inside the reservoirs after he took office. There are plans for those new neighborhoods plots that he had to sign. There's a part here that I found from your time as Canada has occurred in two thousand and so your signature is here. So why sign these documents when they have the disclosure and say actually I didn't realize that we had all these homes idols redeployed We signed dozens of plants every week. Could the engineer had done a better view, since it has the disclosure on there's? No man, no man ever knew plain Perry. Mason now, through your head around and go back to July of this year, Plan
teen in Fort was an important to. You was an important of the Texas Tribune I want you come. Why didn't you come in here and talk to me meeting the new Harvey, was gonna happen actually we ve known for more than a year that these homes would one day flood and we ve been reporting on it. Allow me to screw my head around all the way to October twenty. Sixteen remember that's when Richard long from the army core gave me the tour we heard earlier work honey inside the reservoir right now, right now, here's Report Republic, on the intolerable Richard long isn't allowed to talk to me anymore, because the army core is facing lawsuits from flooded residents, not just from people inside the reservoir, but also ones who flooded downstream when attics and Barker got to The record reign in this region has put reservoirs and dams under tremendous strain during Harvey the dams.
Founding the reservoirs had to hold so much water. The army core worried they might fail. If that happened, downtown Houston could have literally been swept away by a massive wall of water, so the army core made a hard choice, the floodgates to relieve the pressure in the army. Core of engineers says it had to let the water out of those reservoirs essentially to save downtown because they were filling. Too fast, but that when the engineers open those floodgates, they sent water rushing towards neighborhoods, downstream thousands of homes flooded in putting Cynthia kneeling. It's like the Wallis curve to a what. Yet it is bottled way out if you get down really. Oh, my god
The whole Cynthia's showing me a brick wall on her house. That looks like it's about to collapse. During Harvey, she thought her home was safe, but then, just as the storm was peering out, water started pouring in because the army core openness floodgates, and then they got to a point that has started coming and faster faster, and we just had to go upstairs. Nearly two feet of water sat on Cynthia's first floor for weeks, oh she's suing the army core. Do you think this salvage I don't know about up, I don't really care, I mean I don't have a job. It's gonna change and probably ten years that we keep us from this happening again, we're in harm's way, attics and Barker we're supposed to protect Cynthia, but all those houses upstream inside the reservoirs put her at risk back when the area was just grasslands. Water absorbed naturally into the ground as it's been developed and pay
over now, more and more water collects behind those earthen dams during every storm. For years, The army core has warned Congress and local officials that the aging dams can't handle it there now at the top of the list of most dangerous dams in the country Cynthia says the army course should never have let things get this bad there. Excuses are still lame you make me sick, they ve had must, eighty years to make those damned safe, they saw danger, they didn't nothing. Will you stay in Houston? No leave usin. I love. This city? I have loved this city. From the moment I stepped foot on ground and non. On sixty eight years, all my husband, seventy one. I won't be able to sleep at night since Harvey Local, officials have requested six billion dollars from Congress to buy and demolish homes in the reservoirs. There's no time
if it'll ever be approved. Meanwhile, people keep eyeing homes in these same neighborhoods, remember the budding family, their entire New who is in Barker Reservoir. More than doesn't homes have sold their sins Harvey hit, and I haven't found any real estate listings, disclosing the reservoirs a single one says this home is sitting on Papa Land, that's designed to flood That story was produced by reveals Linas teacher, whose, based at the Texas Tribune General bring help from the tributes key. You call your and our Shaw Pro publicly. Find a lot more houses in danger of catastrophic flooding. You'll have to look in a reservoir- you can just go to the Louisiana Coast with next storm- could change thousands of lives. People
oh migrate, one after another, and towns will fall apart as a result. That's next on reveal. From the sooner for investigative reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a mallet in the last few years does a phrase that people started. Throwing around the world's first climate change refugee expect to see more climate migrants in some ways they are also environmental refugees, climate change, migrants on climate change. Refugees than evacuees. Whatever you want to call them, people are forced to leave their homes because of things like rising, sees rising temperatures and extreme weather. The U N says there could be up to a billion in the coming decades, including millions right here, the? U S, people like the cost or, as his friends column little MAC.
So saying, unwise and ways. Noise he's a shrimp about a hundred miles. South West of New Orleans he's on his boat just getting back from four days catching shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to be. On board with him is W w and a quarter taken Wineland thrill pretty up here. I think that's why I like it so much my scenery all the time it would people take data The early morning, sun sparkles on the water of by you d, large, a channel that runs from the ocean all the way to make his house my backing They are my back here on the Louisiana coasts. The by you is like the main street of a small town every hour to Basle for its first second cousins. Allow just go from the low cost levels to the arts. Solving
but the water that connects these families also makes their neighborhood increasingly dangerous. The land here is disappearing, making it one of the most vulnerable places in the state to flooding from hurricanes in tropical storms. Some of the houses are raised, a pilot stills Some are empty because owners have moved away Those who remain like making plan their last around hurricane season. The first thing It was wise to welcome as a into Jonah July, when you start those really brewing up around I'll. Have the Guinean left everything up that again. Give out a homes, away, secure, more boldness, get out a God,
A storm continue to get worse. The republican legislature has been reluctant to place the blame on climate change, but they can ignore the effects the states been planning for the next big storm ever since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago, and thousands of people like Mackey are waiting to see those plans will help them taken. Wetland takes it from here. You can't really see what's happening to the Louisiana Coast when you're on a boat, because first off the coast is all around you it isn't a straight line of beach or on a map. It looks more like the bottom of the state's boot shape is unravelling into, or she fingers that reach out into the gulf the best way to really picture, I wrote it is to see it from about where it will take it to her on a tiny propeller playing on board with me as a coast.
TEST Alex Culture and an environmental law. Professor robber check look at their support over their got it like allocate. It looks like they get up pretty. I we dodge the. Elegance and looked down on what's making Louisiana Coast. Such a dangerous place to live, Alex points how the land is becoming marsh and the marshes are dissolving into water. That attack are still we are at. The start of the flight is probably what these areas used to look like a hundred hundred fifty years ago now we ve just get out you. I've a pretty high. We forty seventy pelicans and looked down on what's washing away into the golf two thousand Square miles have disappeared, since the nineteen thirty is its cause, sea level rise, long term erosion and oil companies. You could say, It was all right oil rights, the little can out they dug canals, so their boats can reach oil rigs. They built out in the marshes
and those canals have eroded and turned to open water to preserve and that remains the states pumping in dirt to create marshes and barrier islands and building levies. Basically, walls to hold back the ocean as the plane turns Alex, tells me to look down for that very odd. That, for future is the shape of the levy, straight line made of tons of dirt dividing the open water from land, where you can see houses, but not all of them. Others are safely behind. The levies fell well back his house right back there we're right over the size, the seemed city. Very, very close. You know you you'll, be air, you can but we see how close the water is. Maggie's houses on in protected little spit of land surrounded by water, though, how do you think appeals to be in some of the family is that I watched this big lobby go up and they know that their side of it, but that's gotta, be devastating. I regret road because they know exactly what I mean
like the like the lifeboat sailing away. Without you wanted it to be and I ask him a follow up what happens people who are left behind. Well, people will my great one after another, and towns will will fall apart as a risk, and economies, will tank and be very chaotic it will happen at. The only question is Are we going to get ahead of the curve? Louisiana has tried to get ahead of the curve after Hurricane Katrina, the state unified its planning hours under a single agency, the coastal protection and restoration authority. Breadhouse is the lead manner using everywhere, prepared than I a little self deprecating which must come in here
Andy. When you're trying to pull off such an ambitious mission, we are charged with short our coastline and reducing risks, protection, or, should I say, from hurting structures for the last decade, that's meant trying to save the land by building all of those marshes, barrier, islands and levies, but in the twenty seventeen version of the agency's coastal master plan, that's changed. We know that the future of our coasts and will be a much different kosovars today. You mean there will be less of it? Yes, yes, we will can't restore close to the level that was at ten years ago a hundred years ago. Certainly The state is now admitting it's a losing battle, some land will be lost forever. Flooding storms will get worse and there are some people on the coast. The state will not be able to protect
because your agency used an elaborate statistical model to forecast how bad flooding might get a strong storm would cause at least five feet of flooding. They say you should raise your home a little higher than that and at the floodwaters are projected to hit twelve feet. You should just move They estimate there are twenty four hundred houses like this, and the plan is to pay the homeowners to leave and knock those houses down. Just put Down on paper friend says: that's gonna big deal. I think it's important to note that this is really the first time we ve had this kind of this level of discussion about the sensitive of topic. People dont want to be told they after move especially coast Louisiana and their fiercely independent, Many of their ancestors move to the coast in the first place, because they dont want the government telling them what to do native Americans driven into
marshes by the indian Removal ACT and scrappy french settlers, like the grandparents of Mackey, the shrimp. Her a big storm could cause fourteen feet of flooding for his house. That would make him eligible for a buyer. I wonder if you would take an offer to I and demolish his house on what I think about it. That's the whole lively who is not just where I live there. Probably now that I've been doing the wound up toward the end. My father consider seriously consider it is now Gonna get any better. The more she hasn't come back now. Remember, Maggie's houses just one of twenty four hundred, so I wonder what the rest of them would think and would money change their thinking,
I decide to do an informal survey of Mackey Neighbours, starting with a group of older men fixing the engine on a shrimp bout reveals Dan L, corn came with, so what how big a government check have to be? to convince any of you guys to mercenary now, the p? most of us down here with we wouldn't want Even so, I think that interaction gives you a sense of what new encounter down here alive, but, as we talk to people, we find it doesn't take much to change their minds. For instance, we come up to one house windows cover. At last they comply what were importers, algae Diana Liner answers the door? Is that something that you would be interested in? If there were money to help you move, would you move made up? There is every year ago, more than sixty.
Where'd you own a star over on a new house, a new baby, she said, is flooded and rebuild so many times. She can't remember after Katrina she applied for help to elevate her house, but she couldn't get the money. The bureaucracy involved was just too complicated and the laws so still that now that you're, a seventy on her daughter, Consuela punch peaks through the wood, sheets to amounts talking to you than comes out the front door wearing a cheetah print rope, though we are asking about buyouts. If there were any kind of Bio programme the oceans coming up more storms are coming, people here will have to move it's one of the most vulnerable part. The state, and so we were taught you dont want to move. And if there were any, would you didn't have a lot of faith that a new government programme will help them, but if it was easy, never paid enough money, that's a different story.
Again and again it doesn't take long to get from. No, we don't want to move to name a price allergies, is a conversation about flood risk, but I'll so about dollars and sense which ran hoss. The planter at the Coastal authority understands our first stagnation. Go to that local and state the community or whatever, maybe and say, here's what we're saying: here's, what our data is telling us about: LAN lost and storm surge and vulnerabilities. You don't hear some options to address those bad situations: That's not haven't you know it's not happening it. It's not happening at this day hasn't told any of those twenty four hundred households. They should move. In fact, despite their elaborate com Remodeling do know where these specific properties I did not. I dont, have a list of structures Emma in my pocket or anything The agency couldn't tell us where the houses were so we request
their data, about where the worst flooding will happen, and we made our own map. That's how we found Mackey and its neighbours to asylum. Applicants sure reveals data team used read to mark the areas where the state wants. People to leave and large swathes of the coast were red. Bren takes a long, hard look at the map. I think it's very interesting, but he didn't know much of a reaction, but he did email us later asking if he could get a copy, it seems like they could have made the map themselves if they really wanted to, but brand says the state. Purposefully, not going out and looking for these people for a very Simple reason. The Bio programme would cost one point: two billion dollars and so far rents as they don't have, that money has been almost mom, it has been, but not much. That would be available for this gonna think and without money. The by our plan is really just a fancy blueprint, but if the coast is such a big priority for the state, why don't they have the money? Why can't they just appropriated from this
he budget. We ask state representative drums rang, why not appropriated, cuz. We don't have it. Why aren't you driving in a Lamborghini right now? Cuz, you can't afford it. The reality is the state doesn't have the money states, usually don't have the money to deal with major disasters like hurricanes and floods. They turned to the federal government, disaster related grants from the federal emergency management agency or the Department of Housing and urban development. Some of those grants pay for things that sound like Louisiana by our programme, but their different. I get a first hand, look at a programme paid for with one. He's federal grants in Roberta Grove and it's a subdivision. A half hour drive from where Mackey the shrimp or lives
I'm going up his red right. Yes, I go there with Jennifer Gervasio she's, a local planner whose cold job is managing federal disaster money. So these little plots hero whereby outs occurred. Yes, these are where by whereby us have occurred. Okay, so we're just king at just a mode lot here and there's houses on either side, which is most of our biota, their next other houses. I point to one of the empty lots. This one says it's for sale. Yes, it is pursued, so someone can build here again. Yes, people and build here again as long as they raise the new houses a few feet off the ground. The federal money being spent here isn't getting people to abandon dangerous areas before a storm, its helping people who have already been hit republican congressmen, Gara Graves wants to change. This he represents Much of Southern Louisiana, where people are still cleaning up after more than a hundred thousand homes flooded and twenty. Sixteen, when I met him,
You just come back from Washington. Re spends a lot of his time, trying to get federal disaster, money, user name critically, sending troops and now he's competing for really funds in the aftermath of hurricanes in Houston and Porto Rico. He says this whole approach where we come in with money after the disaster. Is just not very effective study Joe a dollar spent before a disaster saves for dollar later, and I think instead of throwing, nickel at every ten dollar problem across the country, which is what we're doing right now. Instead come in and corral or focus those investments on things a true priorities like, for example, investing in buy outs in instances where that, unfortunately, is the best investment to wear. We're spending money before these disasters strike in saving the billions that we come in and spend after disasters happen, and these days he says, that's begins, feel like more and more of an uphill battle and twenty thirteen then present
Obama, ordered federal agencies to work together to prepare for climate change, but President Trump has rescinded that order. Since the state doesn't have the money and the federal government is coming to the rescue coastal. And our Brenheim says: there's only one place left to look for money, a two thousand six law, It gives Louisiana a cut of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. There's a kind of justice to using this money. Since oil companies are already implicated, both inclined change and eroding the coast next year. Louisiana cut, it because to be seventy million dollars, that's a lot of money until you compare it to the price tag of the buy up. Program. I mean that's not anywhere near one point: two billion on earth. We cannot ignore the fact that today, Do it obviously that's a huge robot to implementation long as he doesn't have the dollars to actually help people rend doesn't see a lot of upside in telling people they should move
go to an individual, homeowner and say this is what these in this particular location, might actually be a responsible at this point, that's ridiculous Scott used It works for the Gulf restoration network. Then environmental group advocating for people on the coast I mean it is the responsibility of the state to inform its residents that there are threats to their public safety and they need to be talking to people about Now he says people don't even understand the danger therein, let alone their options, and if they did, they be fighting to get help If the state did have the money and help all of us. Twenty four hundred households move There would still be a lot of people left behind like the Williams family obligations Ali and Daniel Williams live just northeast of New Orleans than a little girls.
Division called Avery estates. They up out here This is where we wanted to be forever. We want to build our home with our family, have memories, Marian Eleven years since the seventies. Yes, I mean my grandpa used pigs I hear never got watered, is bad. It floods all the time now and when it does, the water quickly rises in their yard. They raise their home thirteen feet in the air, so the House days dry, but the cars gets stuck, the kids miss school and life tough enough already without the flooding Daniels Disabled and they live off of his disability, Shack only about it. Thousand dollars a month for them there, two kids and five dogs personally are weaker. Another year or less poverty, if that and I'm fed up disgusted, I hate coming home. Just we can't be the family, we won't be back keeper, so it's Not a lot of our lives was
the government give you enough money do anything. You know. At least when it comes to Louisiana proposed by our plan, probably not on map the area where the Williams LIVE is just outside of the Red Zone eligible for buy outs, the projector flooding where they are just isn't quite bad enough. So how does it make you feel to see that you're that regiments agnostic man sat. It says that were like oil squirts left out It isn't just that little square. That's left out. There are a lot of people across Louisiana we're getting flooded in one hour, but for now, they're are all waiting for the next big stormed ahead and the federal money that comes with it. That's taken web coastal reporter
www w and know that story was produced by stand out. Magic as it is to lose a home a disaster hits. The fact is that some, people also lose loved ones. Coming up how the government of Puerto Rico is vastly under counting the number of people killed, don't hurt, Ria and causing outrage among those who survived you're listening to reveal from the centre for investigative reporting, p r exe From the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal a mallet. This our we're talking about how we can be better prepared for rising seas and worsening hurricanes and more than three months since Hurricane Maria battered poor Rico, the island is still grappling with all kinds of challenges.
Including telling the number of people who died of regular revert your sir. It's a great trip and a beautiful place when President tromp first visited poor. We go back in October about two weeks after Maria made landfall. He talked about the official deaf count, which was then just sixteen people you'll get a real catastrophe like Katrina, look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people have died, and you look at what happened here would really a storm that was just totally all the merry nobody's ever seen. Anything like this. What is your and what is your death camp as, if this moment, seven sixteen dream? sort of sixteen people versus in the thousand trump. The low number of certified deaths to say that the hurricane it wasn't a real catastrophe. That's significant because at the time
straighten was facing criticism for not doing enough to help put a regal recover from the crisis. Today, the official deaf count has risen to sixty form, but public health experts say the actual number of hurricane dead is likely much much higher, potentially more than a thousand people you may have heard, in just the last few weeks the porter weakened announced it will investigate how many people actually died. That's something one news organization has been pushing for since the earliest days of the storm Poor Regos centre for investigative journalist for sepia has been covering the story from the beginning producer. Marlon, Bishop from the Emperor programme, Latino, USA teamed up with them to bring us this story, or my associate busk while is reporter at Sepia she's, been working overtime since the hurricane, and that's not a figure of speech she's in putting in so many extra hours that are
been threatened to get a divorce. I had a dad and put an interview here and there you Sally farming to their homeland. Love at night authorities not a big deal but Heem Deal with a generator that broke down with a kid crying everything that they must Cato said he was going crazy. He got ok afterwards and who is think it had divorce, but he was very close to say you know what oh my first started looking into, the death counts importer Rico, beginning just days after the hurricane hit. When she began getting these tips. Doctors were saying this and we have a lot of people in the morgues. That's not normal. It wasn't just the marks. Hospitals without electricity were transferring patients who were in really bad shape to other facilities. Doctors told her many were dying. I was getting number from inside got this week: five transverse, they all died and am I a said to herself
something's, not right with the government death count of just sixteen people. I think there's something big happening here. So I started doing my own accounting or Maya began, reaching out to hospitals, funeral homes and mayors asking if they knew of cases that weren't counted. She didn't just want a number. She wanted to find specific cases with names and documentation that she could bring to the government as proof that their death count was today were in Carolina, a middle class suburb of San Juan amateur, follow up on it from a woman named Miriam Rosa Vargas. We pull up to us our modern home in a gate. Community Miriam is waiting for Us Marlon. But the only the M Humane on, but we sit down the living room and Miriam begins to tell us her story. Her father, formerly a success Journalists and musician had Parkinson's Disease Bobby
Then Yonah gone this young the by some and he was shot signs of dementia, but when Hurricane Maria struck and electricity went out. His health suddenly worsened the heat guy nor the humidity, allow me that you're suffocating software can think. Limpets will think that the family would try to fetch him to call him down, but he was looking really bad five days after the hurricane. They decided to call an ambulance and when they arrived at the hospital doctors told them. He was having a heart attack. On top of that The condition of the hospital was, unlike anything, Miriam had ever seen comes late. I mean Gmos. It was completely full. There were people everywhere. Lining, every hallway, packed in every possible space. At one point she says: a patient's blood just started pulling on the floor and nobody came to clean it up. Miriam says it was her rethink
like something she'd seen in a movie is tat. They re not, but in people s, doctors told Miriam that because of the condition of the hospital which was being powered by generators, they were unable to treat her fathers heart attack. I came all the aid alone, I'll just be die, but phone we're down and there were no available ambulances by the time they found one hours later. He was in critical condition and it was too risky to move him Miriam says they put her dad in an exam room, pulled the curtain and told her they do their best to treat him there. When she returned to the hospital. The next morning she went over to the area where her father was one of my Dana. She opened the curtain, economic, only the monitor and her father. Wasn't there a guy in the same way, and at that moment she says her world fell apart, a doktor came and told her tat. Her dad died in the middle of the night. The hospital would have called, but remember the Renault phones
Miriam had wanted a chance to say good bye, and now she wouldn't get down Miriam dad, isn't included on the official list of hurricane related deaths. On my ass, one last question: what does about do I believe your father died because of the hurricane. If anything. Without a doubt, Miriam says, the government agrees Kinds of indirect debts should be counted, however, and her team have documented more than fifty cases like Miriam Father cases, not included on the official list, There's one woman who is unable to get the dialysis she needed after the storm, a man whose oxygen supply was cut off when the electricity went out. These are just that oh my it has confirmed so far. The actual,
of hurricane dead is likely many times greater, while the official death count is still just in the double digits. A separate government agency that tracks demographic information shows there were four hundred and seventy two more deaths this September, when the hurricane hit than in the previous September. I want to hear from officials importer Rico about why there is such a huge disparity between these estimates and the affair. Account upstairs to meet Mr Pescara. So I requested an interview with the man in charge. Actor Pisca is probably the second most powerful person importer Rico after the governor right now, he was born here then move to the mainland where he worked for the FBI for almost three decades now he's head of porter egos newly created department of Public Security, coordinating with FEMA and helping to run recovery efforts to scare, whereas glasses has a short white beard and shake your hand like he's trying to break it. I asked Pis about those four hundred and seventy two
extra deaths in September. Does he agree that the increases related to Hurricane Maria ruin? Our all? I cannot explain it. I can go by inferences liking or by rumours. We have to go by well, we can prove, after my interview with Pisca, and her team of investigative reporters analyzed new demographic data. It turns out, if you combine September or October, there were over a thousand more deaths this year than in the same period the year before the says, he'll, happily investigate cases brought by family members to determine if they should be added to the list, but that doesn't totally makes sense to me. I ask him: what about cases where the bodies are already bearing?
our cremated, like Miriam Father and so at that point? Is there any way you can do your investigation now, there's only doing out, there was a healthcare crisis that happened in the wake of a semantic. Fortunately, not if you didn't catch that when I ask Pisca if there was a health care crisis after the storm, he says fortunate not but it's difficult case to make. For more than a month. Hospitals where, without power were running on generators, funeral home directors say bodies piled up. I asked a frustrated pisca if he believes the real death count could be higher than what they ve been able to certify that they could. Yeah. I could help. Of course it could happen, but it doesn't mean that it happened. It doesn't mean that is not the accurate gown. It doesn't mean that. Why didn't you, Why do we do
certifying death after a natural disaster is complicated to streamline that process, the centre for Disease Control and prevention. They created a tool kit earlier this year, which CDC recommend that local and regional governments distribute to hospitals and funeral homes ahead of a storm. The territorial government confirmed that it did in the other tool kit, but after the storm not before reporter or my associates, Pasqua who has spoken with dozens of doctors at various hospitals throughout Puerto Rico, who will say they never received anything like it or any other guidance. Biscuit a maintains that if deaths are missing from the official tally, Porter Rico's government isn't to blame. He says responsibility lies with D. And even family members of the dead in the family had concerns at any given point during this process than they should has. Excuse me, but we depend now on the moral and ethical behaviour with attendant physician.
The family members who bring up the issue in the end limited communication? and between the government and hospitals led to widespread confusion over what counts as a hurricane related deaths and who should be certifying them, in the muddle, says: oh Maya. There is also the practical matter of bodies decomposing because of inadequate refrigeration. I think there's a combination between their inexperience of is a administration. I think they didn't wanna alarm people with what was going on and they wanted to look bottom line, or my says the porter we can government is grossly under counting the dead why? Why do you think this matters like when you think about it? Why? Why does it matter that we get the deaf count? Re emerged for several reasons.
The most important one is to actually try and avoid more deaths, because people are still dying because of these situations that have not be identified and prioritized and for families. People like Miriam who want the death of their loved ones to be acknowledged for what they really were. Oh my also brings our president trumps visit and how we used the death count as a kind of shorthand for how not so bad the disaster What's he actually said literally, this is not a real catastrophe like Katrina, so you know we don't need somewhat help, because when we only had sixteen victims are deaths here and that's just not true. What is true is that, with pressure steadily. The plenary. Can government is finally admitting that the official cow may in fact be wrong. Ricardo Rosy YO pointed to news reports like those from home and a centre for investigative journalism, analyzing the increase in deaths after the storm
after the new year, he ordered a full review of deaths. Related to Hurricane Maria thanks to a porter, Marlon Bishop. The story was co production with Enviers Latino, USA and the centre for investigative journalism based in San Juan Puerto Rico, and be sure to listen to sweets Latino USA were Marlon. Travel Rural town in Rico emits a funeral home director who admits that many people in his town were cremated and after the hurricane people who are not part of the official Death camp look out for Latino, USA, on your local public radio station or on your Pakistan Our show was edited by bread. Myerson Deb George had been a strategic Stana, Cornwall meat producers. Special thanks, Dave Harmon from the Texas Tribute
View senior data reporter Eric Cigar and the fourth foundation for supporting our reporting, importer, Rico I led sound designer and engineers Jim Briggs. We had help this week from prompting Arab Louis bathroom, remodel ketchup, Amy files are editor. In chief, our executive users Kevin solving our theme, music, is by Colorado like support for veal body by the Weave David Logan Foundation, the John D in Kathmandu, Macarthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation Afford Ford Foundation, the Heising Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence and journalist found reveals a coal production of the centre for investigative reporting and p r M outlets and remember there is always more to the story.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-20.