Six dead after Irma knocks out air conditioning at Florida nursing home

Residents are evacuated from the powerless Hollywood Hills Nursing Home 1200 N 35th Ave. on Wednesday morning

Residents are evacuated from the powerless Hollywood Hills Nursing Home 1200 N 35th Ave. on Wednesday morning. CAITLIN OSTROFF Miami Herald

Eight people died Wednesday at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home that was left without power and air conditioning after Hurricane Irma, county health officials said. The facility had no electrical power after Hurricane Irma struck the state on Sunday, officials said.

Not counting the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida have died in Irma-related circumstances, many of them well after the storm had passed.

Lisa Baker, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who teaches a class on disaster preparedness and co-authored the book "Vulnerable Populations and Disasters", said each new catastrophe brings lessons of how to improve planning and response.

The overall death toll from Irma climbed to 81 on Wednesday, with several hard-hit Caribbean islands accounting for more than half the fatalities, and officials continued to assess damage inflicted by the second major hurricane to strike the USA mainland this year.

Residents at an assisted living facility in suburban Fort Lauderdale who have been without power since Hurricane Irma are being moved to two facilities across the street that have electricity.

The nursing home released a statement saying it had a "prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane", CNN reported.

It gave The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a for-profit facility with 152 beds, an overall rating of "below average".

Florida has more than 680 nursing homes that house about 73,000 residents, the Florida Health Care Association said.

Police said 145 people were evacuated to Memorial Regional Hospital on Wednesday: 141 from the nursing home and four from an adjacent behavioral health center.

At least 25 people died when Irma pounded the Southeast earlier this week, including 12 people in Florida.

One person was found dead and three others were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning in Daytona Beach, caused by fumes from a gas generator.

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

"This situation is unfathomable", he said. More than half the community of 15,000 residents lacked power.

While sheltering in place can be preferable at times, she said, doing so requires planning to survive the aftermath.

The five women and three men ranged in age from 70 to 99.

The Hollywood Police and Hollywood Fire Rescue received a call around 4 the facility, and found "several patients in varying degrees of medical distress", city officials said.

Nursing homes in Florida are required by state and federal law to file an emergency plan that includes evacuation plans for residents. Many stores remain closed because of the lack of electricity, meaning people are converging on the relatively few shops and eateries that are open.

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