HOLLWOOD Florida- Six residents of a Hollywood, Florida have died and the the effects of Hurricane Irma are being blamed. Police say is is now a criminal investigation.
Police evacuated 115 elderly occupants on Wednesday from the facility, whose air conditioning was cut for days by the storm, the Sun Sentinel reports.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said Wednesday three people died at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Three were later declared dead at nearby Memorial Regional Hospital. Police said the causes of death were not immediately known.
“We’re conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths that occurred here,” said Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez, during a press conference Wednesday morning.
Three of the six have been identified by the medical examiner’s office as Estella Hendricks, 71, Gail Nova, 71, and Carolyn Eatherly, 78.
Police said 115 seniors were evacuated from facility at 1200 N.E. 35 Ave. Not all of their conditions were known.
“As you can imagine, evacuating 115 people from a facility is quite an undertaking,” said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. “We saw that there were a number of people in respiratory distress.”
The nursing home is across the street from Memorial, where many of the evacuated patients were taken to be assessed and cared for, hospital spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin said.
Patients from a behavioral unit of another nearby facility, the Larkin Community Hospital, were also being evacuated, officials said.
Police said they got a call about patients in distress at the Hollywood Hills site at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Timothy Keefe, deputy chief of Broward County Fire-Rescue, said his agency was assisting Hollywood agencies in evacuating the entire facility.
Sharief said she’s been concerned about the lack of power to facilities that are home to the elderly and others particularly vulnerable to the heat, the report explained.
The mayor said that she and County Administrator Bertha Henry pressed Florida Power & Light Co. on Tuesday to expedite power restoration to such facilities.
County Commissioner Beam Furr, whose district includes Hollywood, said the situation is critical at places where older residents are effectively trapped because the lack of power means elevators don’t work.
An aide said later Sharief was also planning to visit the facility.
Families of residents of the nursing home may check on their loved ones by calling a hotline set up by the hospital at 954-265-1074.
When the A/C at Memorial Regional Hospital failed due to lack of water, BSO answered the call, preventing evacuation of nearly 500 patients. pic.twitter.com/w4bUhmTVF1
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) September 13, 2017