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Almost 2 million, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma's wake

17 September 2017, 02:24 | Erica Roy

Almost 2 million, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma's wake

Almost 2 million, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma's wake

Following Hurricane Irma, eight nursing Florida nursing home residents died after the storm knocked out the air conditioning at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

The nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, said it had a "prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane (that hit Sunday)".

The governor's communications director, John Tupps, did not respond to questions about whether Hollywood Hills had called Scott but said all calls from nursing homes were "referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned".

A criminal investigation has been launched into the deaths of eight patients at a Florida nursing home in Irma's aftermath.

"The suspicion is that these deaths should not have occurred", NPR's Jon Hamilton reported from the scene Wednesday.

One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, Irma bore down on the Caribbean with devastating force as it raked the northern shore of Cuba last week. Hollywood officials say the city's Fire Rescue was first called to the facility at 3 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a patient in cardiac arrest.

FPL, which serves almost 5 million homes and businesses, said it expects to restore power to essentially all its users, in the eastern portion of Florida, by the end of the weekend and the harder-hit western portion of the state by September 22.


City officials say three people were already dead inside, and others were pronounced dead later.

While the state considers nursing homes high power priority centers it remains unclear why power remained off at the center days following the storm.

Governor Scott said Wednesday he was "absolutely heartbroken" to learn of the "unfathomable" deaths at the retirement facility and promised to "aggressively demand answers".

"The investigation into this tragedy (at the Broward County facility) and the circumstances that may have contributed to it continues, and it would be inappropriate to comment on details until it concludes", the association said. He also said investigators will look into how many windows were open.

A woman said she visited her long-time friend, who later died, Betty Hibbard, at the nursing home on Tuesday. More than 150 people were evacuated, many suffering from respiratory issues, dehydration and heat-related problems, according to Memorial Regional Hospital spokesman Randy Katz. She adds that utility providers have said they hope to have power restored for all of southeastern Florida by the weekend.

Following Irma, however, temperatures in Florida got hot and humid.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said the center had contacted the county's Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning to alert that it had lost power and the incident was then reported as a "mission-critical request" to Florida Power & Light for power restoration. So far, eight deaths have been confirmed, including the person who had apparently died before someone first called firefighters to the nursing home. Federal prosecutors said that Michel received kickbacks as part of the deal and that some of the patients came from assisted living facilities that he owned.



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