Keeping seniors safe in aftermath of Irma
Special actions taken after 8 patients died in a nursing home that lost electricity
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Florida seniors were ushered out of stifling assisted-living centres Thursday while caregivers fought a lack of air conditioning with Popsicles and cool compresses after eight people died at a nursing home in the post-hurricane heat.
Dozens of the state’s senior centres still lacked electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and several facilities were forced to evacuate. While detectives sought clues to the deaths, emergency workers went door to door to look for anyone else who was at risk.
Fifty-seven residents were moved from a suburban Fort Lauderdale assisted-living facility without power to two nearby homes where power had been restored. Owner Ralph Marrinson said all five of his Florida facilities lost electricity after Irma. Workers scrambled to keep patients cool with emergency stocks of ice and Popsicles.
“FPL has got to have a better plan for power,” he said, referring to the state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light. “We’re supposed to be on a priority list, and it doesn’t come and it doesn’t come, and frankly it’s very scary.”
Stepped-up safety checks were conducted around the state after eight deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which shocked Florida’s top leaders as they surveyed destruction from the punishing storm.
Older people can be more susceptible to heat because their bodies do not adjust to temperatures as well as those of younger people. They do not sweat as much and are more likely to have medical conditions that change how the body responds to heat. They are also more likely to take medication that affects body temperature.
Most people who die from high body temperature, known as hyperthermia, are over 50, according to the National Institutes of Health.
NAPLES, Fla. — President Donald Trump doled out hoagies and handshakes in the sweltering Florida heat on Thursday as he took a firsthand tour of Irma’s devastation and liberally dispensed congratulatory words about the federal and state recovery effort.
Trump, who was in and out of the state in about three hours, got an aerial view of the water-deluged homes along Florida’s southwestern coast from his helicopter, then drove in his motorcade along streets lined with felled trees, darkened traffic lights and shuttered stores.
Walking along a street in Naples Estates with his wife, Melania, the president encountered piles of broken siding and soggy furniture sitting on a front porch, and residents and volunteers who were happy to get a presidential visit.
Nearly 2.7 million homes and businesses, about one-in-four Florida customers, were still without power Thursday.
“We are there for you 100 per cent,” Trump said before donning gloves and helping to hand out sandwiches to local residents from a lunch line under a canopy. “I’ll be back here numerous times. This is a state that I know very well.”
As he left the state, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he planned another hurricane-related trip, to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were both badly hit by Irma.
“I spoke to both governors. We’ve got it very well covered,” Trump said. “Virgin Islands was really hit. They were hit about as hard as I’ve ever seen.”