SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A federal report published Tuesday found that staff shortages and a lack of trained personnel slowed the USA government response to Hurricane Maria, a storm estimated to have killed almost 3,000 people in Puerto Rico.
The Government Accountability Office published a report Tuesday that said FEMA's response to Hurricane Maria was complicated by multiple issues - including, its deployment of unqualified responders.
In addition, the "incapacitation of local response functions due to widespread devastation and loss of power and communications led FEMA to assume response functions that territories would usually perform themselves".
The call comes just about a year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island.
Maria hit on September 20 and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.
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The report also said that FEMA lacked enough Spanish-speaking employees, and that some staffers were not physically fit enough to handle the "extreme or austere" environment.
"Based on this experience, FEMA has taken action to increase preparedness for the 2018 hurricane season by updating hurricane plans, annexes and procedures for states, tribal lands and territories", the US Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, wrote in a letter responding to the GAO report. "We need help, '" Currie said.
After many disputed the official number, Puerto Rican officials commissioned a study from George Washington University in Washington to get a more accurate number of deaths, and when its results were released on 28th August, it confirmed what many had suspected: An estimated 2,975 people lost their lives because of the natural disaster.
FEMA efforts in Puerto Rico were the largest and longest single response in the agency's history. It also reported that FEMA identified a theft fraud "scheme it had not identified following prior disasters" that affected Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.