How many people died on 9/11?
If you ask most people, they’d say 2,977, which is the official death toll from the worst terror attack on America in its history.
Yet the real number of victims is likely to end up more than double that.
The World Trade Centre Health Program estimates that over 50,000 people have been certified sick as a probable consequence of the attacks, of which over 1,100 have so far died.
Rescuers are seen trying to remove a tree which toppled onto a house and killed two people in North Carolina when Hurricane Florence hit on Friday
Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help rescue three children from their flooded home in James City, North Carolina, on Friday
Respiratory and digestive disorders account for most of the cases, but cancer cases are rising rapidly too, especially amongst first responders exposed to the worst of the toxic dust that enveloped them when the Towers collapsed.
It is therefore expected that the number of people who died from the after-effects of 9/11 will exceed the number who died ON 9/11 within the next few years.
What will President Donald Trump say about that when it happens?
Will he tweet something like this: ‘6000 people did not die when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre. When I left lower Manhattan AFTER the attacks, they had 2,977 deaths. As time went by, it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really big numbers. This was done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them to the list. Bad politics. I love New York!’
No, of course he wouldn’t.
Because being a New Yorker, Trump would never dare to say such an unbelievably inappropriate and offensive thing, knowing the hurt and distress it would cause to all those who lost loved ones in or since the attacks.
For Trump, like all New Yorkers, 9/11 remains very personal.
He was in the city that day.
He claims to have personally known numerous people who died on 9/11, and families whose lives were torn apart by it.
And two days after the attacks, he was seen on TV, helping clear rubble at the scene.
Whenever I’ve spoken to him about it, the anger he’s expressed has always felt very strong and very genuine.
So no, there’s not a cat in hell’s chance of President Trump saying anything now to question a single death connected to 9/11, however many years later it may occur.
If he did, he’d be finished.
Trump claimed the death toll was inflated and it was engineered by Democrats to portray him in a bad light following Hurricanes Maria and Irma
President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico in October following the hurricanes
No US President could surely survive being so extraordinarily callous towards his own people about the most infamous day in the nation’s history?
Yet Trump had no such qualms this week about being just as extraordinarily callous towards another group of Americans who’ve suffered just as badly – those in Puerto Rico who have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Maria last year.
In a series of shocking tweets, he emphatically denied that nearly 3,000 people died, contradicting new official numbers compiled in a study by the nonpartisan George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Trump provided no evidence for his justification in refuting these numbers, and neither has the White House done so since he said it.
They can’t, because there isn’t any.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossellós, who commissioned the death toll study, said: ‘There is no reason to doubt the validity of these studies, no reason to expect – even though it’s an estimate – that it’s not far away from what the accurate toll should be. Neither the victims nor the people of Puerto Rico deserve to have their pain questioned.’
Even senior members of Trump’s own party think he’s talking nonsense.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said: ‘Casualties don’t make a person look bad so I have no reason to dispute those numbers. It was devastating, a horrible storm. I toured the entire island. It’s an isolated island that lost its infrastructure and power for a long time. You couldn’t get to people for a long time. I have no reason to dispute those numbers, those are just the facts of what happened.’
Exactly. They’re just the facts of what happened.
The worst of many terrible things about Trump’s response to the new Puerto Rico death toll is that it came right when his whole focus should be on the latest hurricane, Florence, as it barrelled into the Carolinas.
Trees and flood water block a street after Hurricane Maria in Carolina, Puerto Rico on September 22, 2017
Flood water and tree branches are seen blocking a road in Carolina, Puerto Rico in this September 22 photo
Frankly, I expect the President of the United States to be expending every ounce of his energy on ensuring that absolutely everything has been done to minimise potential loss of life today, tomorrow and as long as Florence wreaks its devastation.
The fact he’s wasting valuable time engaging in pathetically petty point scoring over a previous hurricane is ridiculous enough.
But far more disturbing even than that is his apparent lack of any empathy for the poor people of Puerto Rico who lost their lives or loved ones, either during the hurricane or from after-effects since the hurricane.
What Trump can’t stand is being criticised for not doing enough to help; it cuts to the very heart of his gigantic pride and ego.
After all, Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and instead sought praise for his handling of the disaster saying this week that it was ‘an incredible, unsung success.’
He boasted: ‘I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. It was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about.’
But nobody wants to hear this kind of self-aggrandising bullsh*t from a President about a natural disaster that killed so many Americans.
All they want to hear is on-going words of comfort, to know their President still cares about them, that he deeply regrets ANY and ALL loss of life, wishes he could have done more, and will try to do so this time around with Hurricane Florence.
Even one death is one too many.
What Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that Hurricane Maria wasn’t his fault.
Natural disasters happen, and will continue to happen.
When they do, governments must react as best they can.
I don’t believe the more severe criticism of the Trump administration’s Hurricane Maria rescue operation is warranted given the severe logistical issues involving Puerto Rico’s location, and the extent of damage and power failure.
Yes, the operation could have been better, but so could the response to every disaster. I defy any fair-minded person to conclude that President Trump’s response was a disaster too.
Rescue workers rush a man to an ambulance after a tree toppled onto a house in Wilmington, killing two other people on Friday in the first fatalities directly linked to Hurricane Florence
This satellite map, captured on Friday at 8am (ET) shows Florence making landfall on the east coast. The outline of the shoreline has been drawn over the image to show the storm’s location
So this was not Trump’s Katrina, as his furiously indignant tweets seem to suggest he fears.
But it WAS an appalling catastrophe for Puerto Ricans, coming so soon after the horrendously ruinous Hurricane Irma.
And for the President of the United States to say he doesn’t even believe the death toll is a disgraceful additional agony for them to endure.
Hurricanes are not a game, to be squabbled over.
They’re real life, and real death, as we are seeing now with Florence in the Carolinas.
In such moments, a President needs to be Comforter-in-Chief, not someone who pours fuel onto the flames of torment.
Shame on you, Mr Trump.
For once, put your damn ego away and show some bloody heart to these fellow Americans who’ve suffered so much.