Hurricane Irma: 8 dead in Fla. nursing home that lost power

Pauline Gross
September 17, 2017

Inside a sweltering nursing home, a crisis unfolded on Wednesday as 150 centers across Florida still lacked power days after Hurricane Irma ravaged the state.

But by early Wednesday, the center had placed three calls to report patients in distress, prompting firefighters to search the facility.

Including the nursing home deaths, at least 26 people in Florida have died under Irma-related circumstances, and six more in SC and Georgia, many of them well after the storm passed. Police say that the 145 patients who were sent to Memorial Regional Hospital include four from Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services - a facility that shares a building with the Rehabilitation Center.

When asked why the patients hadnt been taken across the street to Memorial Regional hospital when temperatures became unsafe, Hollywood city spokeswoman Rayelin Storey said, “We cant get inside the heads of the staff and the administrators of this facility.”. The center has had electricity and air-conditioning problems after Irma. Rescue crews from several area municipalities were going door to door in 94-degree (34 Celsius) heat to perform welfare checks, and a massive water, ice and meal distribution plan was already enacted.

Police were first called to the facility at about 4:30 a.m. but did not arrive until after 6 a.m., officials said.

FPL posted on Twitter that residents on the west coast of Florida can expect power restoration by September 22 - 11 days after the storm hit Sarasota, though areas hit with tornadoes, flooding or extreme damage could take longer.

"The industry's Irma response is one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in USA history", said Tom Kuhn of the Edison Electric Institute, a lobbying group that represents all US investor-owned electric companies.

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After the outage, five women and three men ranging in age from 70 to 99 died at the Rehabilitation Center. FPL, the state's biggest electric company, said about 1.4 million customers had no power, down from more than 3.6 million on Monday.

Florida officials including Governor Rick Scott and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio greeted Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Fort Myers, Florida.

Police were checking on more than 40 other nursing facilities in Hollywood, Kate Stein of member station WLRN tells NPR's Newscast unit.

"The thing that hits them first is dehydration and then their temperature increases and then respiratory issues kick in", Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich said.

Some were frustrated, just like resident Amber Roelos who said earlier in the week after sleeping in her auto for 54 hours, "I'm pregnant". Some expressed aggravation at the lack of electricity in the Florida heat and slow distribution of aid. County officials released documents showing that the Hollywood facility was in compliance with that regulation and that it held a hurricane drill with its staff in October. "We believe at this time they (the deaths) may be related to the loss of power in the storm". "It was very hot on the second floor".

"The people who were working there worked hard to make a good outcome for our patients", she said.

Older people can be more susceptible to heat because their bodies do not adjust to temperatures as well as younger people.

Other reports by GizPress

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