Some Fla. se­nior sites evac­u­ated

Lack of elec­tric­ity leav­ing sev­eral fa­cil­i­ties dan­ger­ously hot

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Terry Spencer and Jay Reeves The As­so­ci­ated Press

HOL­LY­WOOD, Fla. — Florida se­niors shuf­fled out of sti­fling as­sisted-liv­ing cen­ters 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 cen­ters 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 fa­cil­ity to two nearby homes where power had been re­stored. Owner Ralph Mar­rin­son said all five of his Florida fa­cil­i­ties lost elec­tric­ity af­ter Irma.

“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 storm.

Statewide, 64 nurs­ing homes were still wait­ing Thurs­day for full power, ac­cord­ing to the Florida Health Care As­so­ci­a­tion. The sep­a­rate Florida As­sisted Liv­ing As­so­ci­a­tion said many of its South Florida mem­bers lacked elec­tric­ity.

A day ear­lier near Or­lando, fire­fight­ers helped re­lo­cate 122 peo­ple from two cen­ters that had been with­out power since the storm. And at the 15,000-res­i­dent Cen­tury Vil­lage re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in Pem­broke Pines, res­cue work­ers went door to door to check on res­i­dents and bring ice, wa­ter and meals.

For older peo­ple liv­ing on their own, such as 94-year-old Mary Del­laratta, get­ting help can de­pend on the at­ten­tive­ness of neigh­bors, fam­ily and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. The widow evac­u­ated her Naples con­do­minium with the help of po­lice the day be­fore the hur­ri­cane. Af­ter the storm passed, a deputy took her back home and an­other brought her food. A dea­con from her Ro­man Catholic church also stopped by.

But with no fam­ily in the area and neigh­bors who are gone or un­will­ing to help, the New York na­tive feels cut off.

“I don’t know what to do. How am I go­ing to last here?” she said.

Though the num­ber of peo­ple with elec­tric­ity has im­proved from ear­lier in the week, some 4.9 mil­lion peo­ple across the penin­sula con­tin­ued to wait for power. Util­ity of­fi­cials warned it could take a week or more for all ar­eas to be back up and run­ning.

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