Tragedy strikes Florida nursing home in Irma aftermath
By Marvin Schrebe
At least five people have died in a Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma left much of Florida without power. UPI News reports that the people were being evacuated from the home and died from exposure to the stifling heat and other issues related to not having electricity. UPI says Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharlef said three of the people died at the nursing home and two more died while being transported to a local hospital. Hollywood FL Fire and Rescue told UPI that 115 patients at the nursing home were evacuated safely. The deaths prompted police to check some 42 other nursing homes in Broward County. “Right now the building has been sealed off. We’re conducting a criminal investigation inside. We believe at this time they may be related to loss of power in the storm. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time,” Police Chief Tom Sanchez told UPI affiliate WVSN News.
The facility had a generator but NBC News Miami reports that it is unclear whether or not the generator was working or whether it was damaged as a result of the storm. Kitchen employee Jean Lindor told the Miami Herald that the generator supplied enough power for cooking but did not supply enough power for air conditioning.
In a related story Federal Emergency Management Agency Chief Brock Long told UPI that twenty-five percent (25%) of the buildings on the Florida Keys were destroyed when Hurricane Irma made landfall there on Sunday. UPI also reports that an additional sixty-five (65%) of the buildings there were damaged. “Basically every house in the Keys was effected in some way,” Brock told UPI.
UPI reports that a Facebook post by Monroe County Emergency Services, the agency coordinating disaster relief efforts in the Keys read “We've had trees down (everywhere), roads blocked from one end of this county to the other, car crashes, people hit by limbs, a large barn fire, water shortages, communications failures and even two rocket scientists who decided today would be a GREAT day to kayak down the Ocmulgee River."
The US Department of Defense told UPI that it may need to help evacuate about 10,000 people stranded in parts of the Florida Keys. UPI also reports that the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority has issued a boil water advisory as there have been broken water mains but that the main waterline piping water into the Keys from the mainland appears to be intact.
UPI reports that two deaths in the Florida Keys have been reported thus far but it remains unclear if the deaths were storm related. Officials told UPI that they expect to find casualties but expect the casualty count to remain low because most people heeded the warnings and evacuated.