Public Knowledge of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The Public’s Knowledge and Views of Its Impact and the Response

New KFF Poll Condcuted Using the SSRS Omnibus

To better understand the public’s awareness of the damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and their assessment of the federal government’s response, the Kaiser Family Foundation fielded several questions on the SSRS Omnibus Survey.

The poll found a large majority are aware of the severity of the hurricane’s impact on Puerto Rico and most (62 percent) say the people there are not yet getting the help they need. In terms of the federal government’s response, about half feel the federal government is not doing enough to restore electricity and access to food and water (52 percent) and that the response has been too slow (52 percent). The largest share place the blame for problems restoring basic services on a slow response by the federal government (44 percent), followed by 32 percent who place blame on disorganization at the local level and 10 percent who blame lack of coverage by the news media.

Given that Hurricane Maria was the third hurricane to hit U.S. ground in one month, the survey also assessed the public’s views of how the response to Maria in Puerto Rico compared to the government’s response to earlier hurricanes and found that 44 percent of the public feel that President Trump and his administration have done less to respond to the damage in Puerto Rico than they did to respond to hurricane damage in parts of Florida and Texas. And, nearly half (46 percent) say that the federal government’s response would be moving faster if Puerto Rico had been a wealthier place with fewer Hispanic people, while a similar share (44 percent) say ethnicity and poverty have not affected the recovery effort. Views of the response vary significantly across Democrats, Republicans and independents.