Eight elderly patients died after being left inside a stifling South Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma, officials said on Wednesday, prompting a criminal probe and adding to the mounting loss of life from the storm.
An initial news release from the city of Hollywood said that three patients were found dead in the facility early Wednesday, while others were taken to the hospital and pronounced dead there.
Police evacuated 115 residents on Wednesday from the facility, whose air conditioning was cut by the storm. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief confirmed five people have died, but it remains unknown whether the deaths are related to the heat.
A state official eventually said they found a generator and gas, but it was not needed: The power turned back on.
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.
The nursing home had a generator but it doesn't provide power to the facility's air conditioning.
As hundreds of thousands remain without power in the wake of Hurricane Irma, a South Florida community on Wednesday awoke to devastating news of an increased death toll.
A kitchen worker at the center told the Miami Herald that the facility "had power from a generator to cook meals, but no air conditioning".
Among the state's almost 700 nursing facilities, about 150 lacked power as of Wednesday morning, said the Florida Health Care Association, which represents most of the homes.
Police said 145 people were evacuated to Memorial Regional Hospital on Wednesday: 141 from the nursing home and four from an adjacent behavioral health center.
His office cited Federal Communications Commission data showing that at least 8.1 million cable and wireline subscribers have lost service in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia because of Hurricane Irma. They gave no immediate details on the cause of the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
President Donald Trump was due to visit Florida on Thursday.
In addition to severe flooding across Florida and extensive property damage in the Keys, residents faced widespread power outages that initially plunged more than half the state into darkness.
Authorities in Hollywood, Florida have launched a criminal investigation to determine the exact cause of the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. For example, the website said 25.9 percent of "short stay" residents were hospitalized again after admission to the nursing home, above the state average of 23 percent and the national average of 21.1 percent.
An assisted living center that went without power for almost three days said that its efforts to run fans and keep breezes flowing between open windows could only go so far.
All across Florida and the American southeast, people have grappled with the aftermath of Irma, which slammed into the Sunshine State over the weekend and tore apart trees and buildings with slashing winds and pounding rain.