September 26, 2017
Irma’s lingering after effects turn lethal
HOLLYWOOD, FL - Eight nursing home residents died Wednesday in a building left without air conditioning after Irma blasted South Florida, according to Hollywood police chief Tom Sanchez.

Police have begun a criminal investigation of the deaths at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, 1200 N 35th Ave. Sanchez said precautionary checks would be done on Hollywood’s 42 other nursing homes.

With the assistance of Memorial Healthcare System -- Memorial Regional Hospital is across the street -- Hollywood Police and Fire Rescue evacuated 115 people from the center and Larkin Community Hospital. Another 18 are being evacuated from Larkin’s behavioral health services facility Wednesday.

One resident already was dead when police got a call at 4 a.m. The National Weather Service’s tracking in Hollywood put the temperature at 80 to 82 degrees overnight with a heat index of 85 to 90 after a Tuesday afternoon high temperature of 90 and a peak heat index of 99. Hollywood Public Affairs Director Raelin Story said there is no official cause of death yet, but a number were having respitory issues.

Like many places in South Florida, the nursing home has been without power since being blasted by tropical storm winds with hurricane gusts on the edge of Hurricane Irma, according to the Miami Herald.

Slow restoration of services as leaders pledge more help

Emergency workers and National Guard troops are working to find those left stranded in the Florida Keys by Hurricane Irma, while France and Britain pledge to boost their response to those hit by the storms in their territories in the Caribbean.

French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, a day after arriving in Guadeloupe where he acknowledged the angry response some people have to what they see as inadequate help from France. Macron promised more supplies and security forces for the islands.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is touring Wednesday in Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, two places that took hard hits from Irma last week when it was a powerful Category 5 storm. He also said more security forces and "huge quantities of supplies" were coming, and that he expects Prime Minister Theresa May to announce further aid.

The United Nations is airlifting food and other vital relief to the islands of Antigua, St. Martin, and the Turks and Caicos.

The hurricane killed at least 37 people in the Caribbean and devastated the islands, including Barbuda, which has evacuated all of its citizens to Antigua.

A further 24 deaths have been linked to Irma in the United States.

The Florida Keys were the hardest-hit area on the U.S. mainland. In addition to rescue operations there, National Guard troops are also working to clear roads and runways in order to allow deliveries of life-saving supplies to the island chain where authorities have only allowed people to access the northernmost areas.

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that according to preliminary estimates, 25 percent of homes were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage.

"Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another," Long said.

Amid disarray, signs of restoration

Thousands of people remained in shelters across Florida, while about 40 percent of households were without power by late Tuesday. Authorities have said it will take weeks before electricity is restored to everyone.

But there are signs of life returning to normal, with airports resuming flights, curfews in many areas being lifted and major theme parks in Florida reopening.

Governor Rick Scott's office said key ports resumed operations Tuesday with a priority on bringing in fuel tanker ships, and that highway patrol officers were ready to escort delivery trucks to the many gas stations that have seen shortages since before the storm hit. All of Florida's interstate highways are also open.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders said Wednesday Trump will stop in the southwestern Florida city of Naples. Little additional information about the trip was made available.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest stars in show business took part in a benefit concert Tuesday that raised more than $44 million for the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Stevie Wonder opened the show while such superstars as Cher, Barbara Streisand, Tom Hanks and Robert DeNiro answered telephones from viewers to accept donations.

It is going to cost tens of billions of dollars to replace homes and repair infrastructures destroyed by the two storms. Harvey slammed into the southeastern state of Texas last month as a Category 4 storm while Irma struck the Florida Keys Sunday and moved up the Gulf coast, causing floods and destruction across the entire state. (Source: VOA News)
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