Puerto Rico's uncounted hurricane deaths

Updated 5:57 AM ET, Fri October 27, 2017

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Arecibo, Puerto Rico (CNN)You won't hear about her death from officials investigating the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, but you should know her name and her story.

She was Isabel Rivera González.
Rivera was 80. She loved to dance, and was known in this hilly enclave of Puerto Rico for her Saturday-night merengue moves. In family photos displayed at her funeral last week, she was shown laughing near a shoreline as flamingos tiptoed behind her. In a black-and-white image, she beamed as she held an infant, one of her five children. Those children described their mother as healthy and full of energy late into her years -- a woman who lit up a room.
Isabel Rivera
Rivera survived Hurricane Maria on September 20 huddled next to her boyfriend, Demencio Olmeda, 76. The storm's winds tore out their curtains and windows, swirling debris in the sky, knocking out power and water service and killing, officially, 51 people.
"I will remember her every day," Olmeda told me.
On October 15, three weeks after the storm, Rivera died awaiting a procedure at a hospital that had lost power in the hurricane and whose backup generator failed, according to several of her family members. Such deaths -- those of people who might be alive if not for the storm -- should be analyzed as part of the US territory's efforts to tally hurricane mortality, said Héctor Pesquera, secretary of Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety, which oversees the count.
Rivera died on October 15 at Manatí Medical Center.
Yet Rivera's death was not assessed or counted in connection with Hurricane Maria's death toll, CNN learned after interviewing Puerto Rican and federal officials, as well as funeral home directors and hospital administrators in Rivera's municipality, Arecibo, located about an hour west of San Juan, the capital.
The official hurricane death toll for Arecibo stands at one -- a landslide fatality that was autopsied at the Bureau of Forensic Sciences in San Juan, according to government documents. Rivera did not die in a landslide and her body was not sent to San Juan for an autopsy, according to family members and Roberto Jiménez, her funeral home director.
"I view her death as a direct result of what happened" because of the hurricane