Six people have died at a Florida nursing home which was left without power for days after Hurricane Irma, as police announce they are opening a criminal investigation into the deaths.
More than 100 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, on Wednesday morning where residents were suffering from intense heat after the deadly hurricane.
Three residents were confirmed dead at the facility while two others died a short time after being rushed to the nearby Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said at a morning press conference.
A sixth person has now died in hospital at just before midday, officials said.
It is not yet clear whether the vulnerable residents died from heat exhaustion or another cause.
But many nursing homes cater to frail, and ill residents, who may rely on oxygen respirators or other medical equipment and medicine. It’s unclear whether any of these were affected by the power loss.
Police are now conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Six people are dead at a Florida nursing home after the building’s air-conditioning broke down during Hurricane Irma (pictured: a patient is rolled out of the nursing home on a stretcher and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital)
More than 100 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, on Wednesday morning (pictured)
Residents were suffering from intense heat and lack of power after the deadly hurricane wiped out the buildings electricity, and many had to be stretchered to hospital
Scenes outside the South Florida nursing home where six people have died after the building lost power during Hurricane Irma
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez told WSN-TV: ‘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 the loss of power in the storm. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time.’
Sanchez said officers were now checking another 42 nursing homes throughout the city to ensure the elderly residents were OK as temperatures are expected to reach the 90s this week.
Hollywood Fire Rescue and Police confirmed that all residents and staff, a total of 115 people, had been evacuated from the building.
Fire crews and police were called out to the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills, Hollywood, Florida this morning (pictured is a fire truck outside the center)
Scenes outside a South Florida nursing home where six people have died after the building’s power and AC went down during Hurricane Irma
It is not yet clear whether the vulnerable residents died from heat exhaustion or another cause (Scenes outside the nursing home on Wednesday)
The assembled press outside the entrance to the Rehabilitation Center, which is opposite a hospital
A City of Hollywood spokesman confirmed that many of the residents were found in critical condition, some with trouble breathing.
Footage from the scene on Wednesday morning showed patients being rolled out of the nursing home on stretchers and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital.
The neighboring Larkin Community Hospital was also being evacuated, Local 10 reports.
At the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood Hills, Florida, Airstron employee Dave Long said he’d been calling Florida Power & Light for days to fix a fuse which appeared to have popped out during the hurricane – but to no avail.
‘There’s nothing we can do,’ said a ‘frustrated’ Long. ‘We’ve been calling and calling. It just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I can’t do anything until we get that fuse popped back in.’
WSVN-TV report that the nursing home did appear to have a back up generator, although it does not appear to have been working.
Two residents were confirmed dead at the Rehabilitation Center, in Hollywood, (pictured) while three others died a short time after being rushed to the nearby Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment
Photos of inside the nursing home show a fairly basic set up with shared bedrooms which could have become unbearably hot at the temperatures increased without AC
A spokesman for Florida Power & Light (FPL) passed on his condolences to the residents of the Rehabilitation Center that had lost their lives, at a press conference this morning.
‘Our deepest sympathies goes out to those who lost their lives,’ he said, but said the tragedy ‘does point to the need (for facilities) to have a plan in advance.’
He also urged any frail, elderly or vulnerable people who were currently without power, ‘please go to a shelter or call 911, now.’
The spokesman added that FPL had met with city officials in March to determine which buildings should be listed as top critical facilities in the case of a hurricane. The Rehabilitation Facility was not among those listed.
Generators can also come with their own health risks after three people were found dead inside an Orlando home Tuesday from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning; 13-year-old Jan Lebron Diaz, 14-year-old Kiara Lebron Diaz and Desiree Diaz Molina, 34. A portable generator was still running inside their home.
Airstron employee Dave Long – who was called out to fix the problem – said he’d been calling Florida Power & Light for days to fix a fuse which appeared to have popped out during the hurricane (pictured is Hurricane Irma in Florida on September 10)
Irma battered Florida over the weekend leaving devastation in its wake (Debris covers parts of A1A as hurricane Irma lands in Delray Beach, Florida on September 10)
Another person died in Daytona Beach on Wednesday from carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric generator.
At least 18 people from Florida have died after Hurricane Irma swept through the state. Irma also claimed the lives of four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, around half of Florida’s entire population were left without power.
Florida Power & Light say they have restored power to around 60 per cent of its 4.4 million customer base although utility services have warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored across the state.
The Florida Keys were the hardest hit as drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands’ hospitals closed, and gasoline supplies limited.
About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state.