Irma death toll rises as 5 dead at South Florida nursing home
Posted by Mark Berman on 13th September 2017
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This post was originally published on THE WASHINGTON POST

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As of Tuesday, Sept. 12, millions of Florida residents were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Here’s a look at the areas hit hardest by outages. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The death toll left behind by Hurricane Irma continued to rise Wednesday, as five people died at a South Florida nursing home that apparently was without air conditioning, according to local officials.

Three people died at the facility in Hollywood, Fla., and two others were pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital, Barbara Sharief, the Broward County mayor, said at a news briefing Wednesday morning. The facility was being evacuated, but it was unclear when the order to clear the site was put in effect.

Sharief said it was not immediately clear what caused the deaths at the nursing home, which is believed to have lost air conditioning after the storm. Authorities said other people at the facility were being evacuated to other locations.

Millions of people across Florida have lost power since Irma began lashing the state, and utilities have warned that some of the outages could extend for days or even weeks. This has cut air conditioning to scores of Floridians, and it poses an acute danger for the particularly young or old in a state known for its sweltering temperatures.

The five people who died Wednesday in South Florida were part of a mounting death toll that also included two people in Georgia killed when trees fell on them and a man in Winter Park, Fla., near Orlando, apparently electrocuted by a downed power line in a roadway.

But as the power outages have lingered and residents have turned to generators, authorities have also warned of the danger these devices cause, noting that misusing them can easily sicken or kill people inside homes.

The Daytona Beach Fire Department said Wednesday morning that one person was dead and three others taken to a hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside a home there, and the department pleaded with people to keep their generators outside.

All across Florida and the American southeast, people have grappled with the aftermath of Irma, which slammed into the Sunshine State over the weekend and tore apart trees and buildings with slashing winds and pounding rain.


Brian Baker cuts up a fallen oak tree after Hurricane Irma passed through the area in Valrico, Fla. (Chris O’Meara/AP)

More than 6 million people were evacuated from their homes in Florida, and they have slowly begun to return, even as roadways remain littered with debris, homes lack electricity and traffic signals have gone dark.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said about half of the county’s traffic signals were out. Sharief, the Broward County mayor, has said the number was closer to 45 percent of traffic signals there.

Across the state, the explanations for the outages were visible alongside the road.

“It’s a lot of trees and power lines and snapped poles,” said Kate Albers, a spokeswoman for Collier County, which stretches across southwestern Florida and includes Marco Island, where Irma made her second landfall.

“I can tell you from driving around you see lines down all over the place,” Albers said. “You see trees thrown through power lines and you’ll see an occasional pole.”

This story will be updated.