Six dead at Florida nursing home without power since storm

Marie Harrington
September 14, 2017

The nursing home, located in Hollywood, Florida, about 20 miles north of Miami, has been in the dark since Irma struck earlier in the week, officials said.

Aside from the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida were killed in Irma-related circumstances, in some cases during the cleanup, well after the storm.

The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat dropped to 9.5 million - just under half of Florida's population.

Broward County officials said three died at the property on 1200 N. 35th Ave., which includes the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and the Larkin Community Hospital. All mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted by Tuesday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. A portable generator was still running inside their home.

"We are conducting a criminal investigation inside that we believe at this time may be related to loss of power and the storm, but we are conducting criminal investigation and not ruling anything out", Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said, adding that it was a "sad event".

Approximately 110,000 people remain in shelters across Florida.

Massive power outages are crippling much of the Southeast on Tuesday.

Kerting Baldwin, a spokeswoman for Memorial Healthcare System, which runs four hospitals that received the evacuees, said staff were "assessing patients and tending to the health-care needs of the residents".

"Once we determined we had multiple deaths... we made the decision to evacuate", said Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez.

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"There's nothing we can do", Long told Local10.

Irma's wrath came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which tore through parts of Texas at the end of August.

SC governor Henry McMaster on Tuesday lifted an evacuation order that had been in effect on the barrier islands in the southern part of the state.

"They identified which facilities were to be critical top infrastructure facilities, this was not one of them", he said about the Hollywood Hills center.

An AHCA inspection of the rehab center dated March 31 faulted the facility for several violations, including poor food and unsanitary conditions.

"They were sick already".

Retired nurse Flora Mitchell's 58-year-old sister Vanda Wilson has been as resident at Rehabilitation Center since suffering a stroke, which left her unable to speak or move, a decade ago. "They haven't told us anything". Drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands' hospitals were closed, and gasoline was extremely limited. "A little stress free environment", said Kalin Weckwerth.

Rescue mode: Mayor Lenny Curry said his city is in "rescue mode", with teams working to evacuate people from low-lying areas impacted by the flooding.

The lower Keys were particularly hard hit, with first responders Wednesday still searching through wreckage.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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