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About 3.1 million still without power in US Southeast after Irma

17 September 2017, 01:01 | Darnell Patrick

About 3.1 million still without power in US Southeast after Irma

About 3.1 million still without power in US Southeast after Irma

Emergency crews around Florida are moving elderly residents from nursing homes without power, after eight people died in one sweltering facility.

Among the state's almost 700 nursing facilities, about 150 lacked power as of Wednesday morning, said the Florida Health Care Association, which represents most of the homes. The deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were believed to be heat-related.

A state investigation continues into the deaths - three of which occurred in the facility and five more at area hospitals - as lawyers for the Vega family say the center "neglected" her inside instead of transferring her to Memorial Hospital, located directly across the street. And because hurricane winds spin counterclockwise and lined up perfectly perpendicular to the St. Johns River, "it just pushed the water from the Atlantic right into the river", National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

An initial investigation has determined that the facility had some power but the air conditioning system was not fully functional, Hollywood police said Thursday.

- 94 degrees (34 Celsius) is what the heat and humidity feel like in South Florida.

At a news conference, Florida Power and Light said it serviced portions of the facility.

A state official eventually said they found a generator and gas, but it was not needed: The power turned back on.

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"The industry's Irma response is one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in USA history", said Tom Kuhn of the Edison Electric Institute, a lobbying group that represents all US investor-owned electric companies.

Rick Scott has directed Florida's agency for healthcare administration to remove the rehabilitation center from the Medicaid program. The state said nearly 25 percent of the area was still without power.

In the Naples and Fort Myers area, Trump received updates on recovery efforts from state and local authorities and viewed damage caused by the monster storm.

"People who bag your groceries when you're on vacation - the bus drivers, hotel cleaners, cooks and dishwashers - they're already living beyond paycheck to paycheck", said Stephanie Kaple, who runs an organization that helps the homeless in the Keys.

Police were checking on more than 40 other nursing facilities in Hollywood, Kate Stein of member station WLRN tells NPR's Newscast unit. More than 100 patients were taken to nearby hospitals and treated for respiratory distress and heat-related issues, including dehydration. However, when she showed up to work, paramedics were barring the doors and telling her she could not enter. He added: "As of Tuesday, [the facility] was reporting that everything was OK, that it was using portable air conditioners and fans". He said at no time did the facility communicate any imminent threats to its patients. County officials released documents showing that the Hollywood facility was in compliance with that regulation and that it held a hurricane drill with its staff in October.

"It's a team like very few people have seen", he said. "And there are so many older people here with different physical problems that I think they should make this a priority to get the power back". She said she last heard from her sister two days earlier and learned the air conditioning was not working.



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