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FEMA omits statistics on Puerto Rico hurricane response from website

The Trump administration continues to follow the playbook it has used since moving into the White House — delete or otherwise block easy access to unflattering information on government websites. This strategy is evident at the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where climate change pages have disappeared, and many other agencies.  And now, the same thing is happening with Puerto Rico hurricane response efforts.  SEE ALSO: Photos from Puerto Rico reveal the devastating power of Hurricane Maria Until sometime between Oct. 3 and Oct. 5, one could find information on how many Puerto Ricans were without power and without access to clean water via FEMA's website.  But those statistics are no longer readily available, perhaps because it goes against the administration's narrative that the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico is improving. According to a report in the
Washington Post and an analysis by the watchdog group, Environmental ​Data ​and ​Governance ​Initiative (EDGI), FEMA has removed statistics from its Hurricane Maria webpage that pertain to access to electricity and drinking water. In addition, EDGI wrote that "additional ​statistics, ​descriptive ​bullet ​points, ​and ​images ​were ​also updated." According to the EDGI report, one subsection of FEMA data, titled “Power Restoration ​and ​Fuel ​Impacts,” was completely removed, while other bullet points on water access and a logistics snapshot for the storm were taken out as well.   FEMA Puerto Rico response page on Oct. 3, 2017.Image: edgi FEMA Puerto Rico response page on Oct. 5, 2017.Image: edgI Another section, which stated that 50 percent of Puerto Rico residents have access to drinking water, was removed as well.  The power and water statistics are now available on a website maintained by Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rosselló, but that site is in Spanish.  The disaster response agency told the
Washington Post that the information is still available, just not its website. "Our mission is to support the governor and his response priorities through the unified command structure to help Puerto Ricans recover and return to routines. Information on the stats you are specifically looking for are readily available,” a FEMA spokesman told the
Post.  In response to
Mashable's inquiry and those of other media organizations, a FEMA spokesman acknowledged the information was left off its Oct. 5 update, and said they will put the information back in coming days. “FEMA officials provide response and recovery updates in a variety of ways, to include through daily press conferences, news releases and social media posts," said FEMA Director of Public Affairs William Booher, in a statement.  "The Government of Puerto Rico provides information on the status of infrastructure on its publicly available website that we regularly use as a source of information for our reports. FEMA’s Hurricane Maria website includes a range of information directly related to the federal response, and we often include some data from the Puerto Rico website," Booher said. "While some information was not included in yesterday’s update to our website, at no point was the data not publicly available. 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." The Trump administration has come under criticism for its slow response to the crisis in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria. In addition, President Donald Trump's Oct. 4 visit to the island was interpreted by many as insensitive to the plight of millions of Puerto Ricans, since he only toured wealthy, relatively unscathed areas in San Juan. 
This story has been updated to include FEMA's statement on the Puerto Rico infrastructure information. WATCH: Celebs are sharing embarrassing puberty throwback pics for a good cause
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