9. Maria Gonzalez looking at picture of deceased sister, Ramona
10. Pictures of Ramona in her casket
11. Maria looking at pictures
12. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Maria Gonzalez, 65, sister:
"It's very painful. Especially for her. She suffered so much. Too much. We had no help of any kind. In fact, nobody even brought some bottles of water. They did not even pass through here."
San Juan, Puerto Rico - 23 August 2018
13. Wide 10 year-old, Paola, swinging her feet
FAMILY PHOTO – COURTESY TORRES FAMILY
14. STILL Orlando Lopez Martinez with his daughter, Paola
San Juan, Puerto Rico – 23 August 2018
15. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Lady Diana Torres, wife of Orlando Lopez Martinez who died after the storm:
"In various school assignments she had to talk about what had happened during the hurricane. So, I would help her do her work. But she did not want to mention that her father had died. And when she was at school, they gave her professional counseling. And the social worker talked with her and with other people who had gone through the same situation. And well, they talked with her and she cried very much."
16. Tight of mother holding recent picture of her daughter
17. Framed photo of Ernesto Curial
18. Set up shot of Ernesto's wife Gloria Rosado Ortiz and their son, Yamil Rosado Curiel
19. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Yamil Rosado Curiel, son:
"When power was lost in the building we lived at, the generator collapsed, he had to, he preferred to walk down ten flights by stairs, and then go back up to get his insulin shots since the only working cooler was on the first floor. So it was very complicated."
20. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Gloria Rosado Ortiz, wife of Ernesto:
"I think that if it, (the hurricane), had not happened, and neither had the terrible response by the government to the event, and to the recovery of the damages to the infrastructure and the services, he would still be alive, surely."
Ramona Gonzalez did not drown when Hurricane Maria drenched Puerto Rico. She did not die in the tempest, or from destruction wrought by the storm's 154 mph (248 kph) winds.
Instead, this disabled, 59-year-old woman died a month later, from sepsis — caused, says her family, by an untreated bedsore.
In all, the storm and its aftermath took the lives of unfortunates like Gonzalez and thousands of others, many of whom could have been saved with standard medical treatment. This was a slow-motion, months-long disaster that kept Puerto Ricans from getting the care they needed for treatable ailments, even as President Donald Trump lauded his administration's response.
A year after Maria roared across the Caribbean, reporters for The Associated Press, the news site Quartz and Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism have put together the most detailed portrait yet of the agonizing final days of victims of the storm, interviewing 204 families of the dead and reviewing accounts of 283 more to tell the stories of heretofore anonymous victims.
Trump cast doubt on the storm's widely accepted death toll Thursday, tweeting that "3000 people did not die" when Maria hit after a near-miss by Hurricane Irma in September, 2017. He said the death count had been inflated "by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible," by adding unrelated deaths to the toll from causes like old age.
But the joint investigation reflects how Puerto Rico's most vulnerable fell victim to dire conditions created by the storms.
Disabled and elderly people were discharged from overwhelmed hospitals with bedsores that led to fatal infections. Medical oxygen ran out. People caught lung infections in sweltering private nursing homes and state facilities. Kidney patients got abbreviated treatments from dialysis centers that lacked generator fuel and fresh water, despite pleas for federal and local officials to treat them as a higher priority, according to patient advocates.
Along with post-storm conditions, each death has a complex mix of causes that can include serious pre-existing conditions and individual decisions by patients, caregivers and doctors, making it difficult to definitively apportion blame in every case. But critics say many could have been saved by better preparation and emergency response.