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IRMA AFTERMATH | Nursing home deaths spur efforts to protect elderly


Published: Thu, September 14, 2017 @ 8:53 a.m.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Emergency workers around hurricane-scarred Florida worked to make sure elderly residents were safe, evacuating multiple assisted-living facilities, after eight people died in a sweltering nursing home that lost its air conditioning in the storm.

In one of the latest actions to protect older residents, firefighters helped relocate 122 people late Wednesday from two assisted living centers near Orlando that had been without power since Hurricane Irma.

The stepped-up efforts came after the eight deaths the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which shocked the state’s top leaders even as they surveyed destruction from a storm that spread its punishing effects across the entire state.

“Unfathomable,” Gov. Rick Scott said of the nursing home deaths. “Inexcusable,” Sen. Bill Nelson added.

In Coral Gables, an apartment building was evacuated after authorities said its lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants. And at the huge, 15,000-resident Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines, where there were also widespread outages, rescue workers went door to door in the 94-degree heat checking on residents and bringing ice, water and meals.

Though the number of people with electricity had improved from earlier in the week, some 6.8 million people across the peninsula continued to wait for power, and utility officials warned it could take a week or more for all areas to be back up and running.

As the state continued to piece itself back together, President Donald Trump was due to visit Naples in southwestern Florida on Thursday.

Including the nursing home deaths, at least 25 people in Florida have died under Irma-related circumstances, and six more in South Carolina and Georgia, many of them well after the storm had passed. The death toll across the Caribbean stood at 38.

In Hollywood, the Rehabilitation Center said the hurricane had knocked out a transformer that powered the air conditioning. Broward County said the home alerted officials Tuesday that it had lost power, but when asked if it had any medical needs or emergencies, it did not request help.

Early Wednesday morning, after responding to three calls about patients there in distress, firefighters went through the facility and found three people dead and evacuated more than 150 patients to hospitals, many on stretchers or in wheelchairs, authorities said.


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