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14 September 2017, 12:32 | Erma Lawrence
'Potentially catastrophic' Irma barrels toward Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the five deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related.
Not counting the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida have died in Irma-related circumstances, many of them well after the storm had passed.
Three people were dead when authorities arrived at the facility and that three others died later, NPR's Jon Hamilton reports from Hollywood. "I have nothing", said Mercedes Lopez, 50, whose family fled north from the Keys town of Marathon on Friday and rode out the storm at an Orlando hotel, only to learn their home was destroyed, along with the gasoline station where Lopez worked. An upcoming federal rule also mandates that the alternative power source must maintain temperatures appropriate for the residents' health. The center has had electricity and air-conditioning problems after Irma.
A state official eventually said they found a generator and gas, but it was not needed: The power turned back on.
The 152-bed Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills provides short-term rehabilitative services and long-term care, according to its website. They have opened up a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Across Florida and nearby states, some 5 million homes and businesses were without power on Wednesday, down from a peak of 7.8 million on Monday.
As a precautionary measure, police are checking the other 42 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city of Hollywood. The nursing home's maintenance director could not produce documentation to show that either the emergency generator "had been replaced" or that there were plans for a "permanent generator" to be installed, inspector records showed.
"We've got a lot of work to do, but everybody's going to come together", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.
"A number of people were in respiratory and other distresses", said Sanchez. "As with millions of other Floridians, our centers are coping with the loss of power and infrastructure in the communities that were most affected by the devastation", the statement reads. As of Wednesday, almost 60 percent of customers had electricity restored, according to Florida Power & Light.
And at the huge, 15,000-resident Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines, more than half the residential buildings had no power Wednesday afternoon. "I don't know if she is dead or alive", Ms. Mitchell said.
Millions of people in Florida and other southeastern states lost power due to Irma, making the hurricane the worst weather-related power outage in USA history.
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