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Florida Senator Calls Nursing Home Deaths Inexcusable

17 September 2017

Several patients at the sweltering nursing home died in Hurricane Irma's aftermath, raising fears Wednesday about the safety of Florida's 4 million senior citizens amid widespread power outages that could go on for days.

Six Hollywood, Fla., nursing home residents died Wednesday morning in a building left without air conditioning after Irma blasted South Florida, according to Hollywood police chief Tom Sanchez.

So far, there has been 61 confirmed deaths caused by Hurricane Irma, with 38 in the Caribbean and 23 in the U.S. as of Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. North Carolina reported its first Irma-related death on Friday after a man died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and two more people died in Florida from the unsafe fumes, including a woman in Palm Beach County.

The Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida Keys island chain last weekend after carving a destructive path through the eastern Caribbean, forcing the mandatory evacuation of nearly six million people and forcing the state into lockdown.

Tens of thousands of customers in Pinellas County on the state's west coast still don't have electricity as well.

In the battered Florida Keys, meanwhile, county officials pushed back against a preliminary estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that 25 percent of all homes in the Keys were destroyed and almost all the rest were heavily damaged.

Temperatures were above 30 degrees Celsius (more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday and Wednesday in Hollywood as police started evacuating 79 residents of another nursing home in North Miami Beach.

Three people were found dead at the nursing home and two others died after arriving at the hospital, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said during a press conference Wednesday.

Police said they have opened a probe into possible criminal negligence. "The temperatures, particularly on the second floor, were extremely hot".

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The deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were believed to be heat-related. The youngest was 70, according to the Broward County Medical Examiner's office.

"At no time did the facility report that conditions had become unsafe or that the health and safety of their patients was at risk", said Mara K. Gambineri, a health department spokeswoman.

John Tupps, Scott's communications director, alleged that, "Every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned".

"I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place", Scott said.

"This situation is unfathomable", he said. Residents struggling to put their lives back together have fallen victim to new hazards, including oppressive heat, brush-clearing accidents, house fires and deadly fumes from generators.

Irma caused about $25 billion in insured losses, including $18 billion in the United States and $7 billion in the Caribbean, catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Co estimated on Wednesday.

In the battered Florida Keys, meanwhile, county officials pushed back against a preliminary estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that 25 per cent of all homes in the Keys were destroyed and almost all the rest were heavily damaged. Irma wreaked total devastation in parts of the Caribbean, where at least 43 people have died.

Of the almost 40 people killed by Irma in the Caribbean, victims include 10 dead on the French island of St Barts and on the French part of St Martin - which is shared with the Netherlands.

"We are there for you 100 percent", Trump said before donning gloves and helping to hand out sandwiches to local residents from a lunch line under a canopy.

Florida Senator Calls Nursing Home Deaths Inexcusable