LAND O' LAKES, Fla.-- The Puerto Rican government is finally acknowledging the possibility that more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
- Possibly more than 1,400 people died in Hurricane Maria aftermath
- For months, officials maintained the death toll was 64
- PR government requests $139 billion in recovery funds
It has been nearly a year, or 323 days, since the storm decimated the island.
For months, officials maintained the death toll was 64.
Yeyshkira Centeno still remembers the night Hurricane Maria hit her hometown of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.
"I can remember people's screams saying, ‘Please God, don’t allow this'. It was really tough. Really tough," she recalled.
She stayed on the island for two months after the storm, doing what she could to help her community.
"I saw someone die in Puerto Rico. He was an old man and he needed his medical equipment but there was no electricity. Everything was dark. It was really tough," she said.
Now, she and her family are living in a motel in Land O' Lakes.
"Many people told me, 'You left. You fled.' No, I didn't flee. I helped as much as I could, but if the government doesn't help, how are we supposed to help ourselves?" she said.
Her family is just one of many who've denounced Puerto Rico's initial death toll of 64.
"Why? Because the government is trying to hide the bad things that are happening. They're hiding, they don't want to say what the reality is," she said.
The Puerto Rican government acknowledged the higher death toll in a report submitted to Congress this week.
In the draft, they requested $139 billion in recovery funds.
The admission comes almost exactly a year after the hurricane hit.
Centeno tells me she doubts this will make a difference.
"I don't want to move back. And I get goose bumps saying that, but no. Puerto Rico is in total chaos," she said.
A more exact number is expected to be released in coming weeks, as Puerto Rican officials await the outcome of a study being done by George Washington University.