Loss of Power from Hurricane Irma Contributes to Fatalities
Hurricane Irma may have moved on from the Sunshine State, but left a trail of lingering dangers that include carbon monoxide poisoning and heat-related incidents caused by the loss of electricity. Millions in Florida are still waiting for power to be restored. Hollywood officials said at least eight people have died and 115 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills located approximately 20 miles north of Miami.
It was confirmed by the medical examiner’s office that three of the victims were found dead early Wednesday, while the others died either at the hospital or on the way there. Victims range in age from 71 to 99, according to FOX News.
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said, “We believe at this time they may be related to the loss of power in the storm. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time.” Investigators believe the deaths were heat-related, Sanchez said, adding that it was a “sad event.”
National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience and success in representing clients in wrongful death litigation. Our attorneys are actively reviewing cases on behalf of individuals who are seeking information for those interested in filing a lawsuit.
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills was evacuated due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane, according to Jorge Carballo, administrator of the facility.
“Facility administration has been in communication with Florida Power & Light and the Governor’s office since the beginning of Hurricane Irma, and is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were affected.”
Officers have been assigned to check 42 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Hollywood to “make sure they are in sufficient care of the elderly,” said Sanchez. The Hollywood Police and Hollywood Fire Rescue received a call around 4 a.m. at the facility, and found “several patients in varying degrees of medical distress,” said city officials.
In an interview on NPR Radio, a New York Times correspondent said there had been a disconnect between priorities on the state level where nursing homes were considered an absolute priority, and the local level, where it seemed the priority level differed.
Governor Scott of Florida Comments
The Governor of Florida Rick Scott, released a statement in which he called the situation “unfathomable,” and added, he’s “going to aggressively demand answers” as to what occurred at the Rehabilitation Center. The Governor said he ordered an investigation and will hold accountable those who were responsible, FOX News reports.
Democratic Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, tweeted that the events that happened at the Rehabilitation Center are “inexcusable,” and said he has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to look into the situation.
Sen. Nelson later tweeted that he spoke with HHS Secretary Tom Price and “asked him to do everything in his power to keep Florida’s most vulnerable safe, especially those in nursing homes….I also sent him names of nursing homes without power so we can quickly get power restored and keep our seniors safe.”
According to the official Medicare website, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is rated two out of five stars, with a low health inspection rating because of 11 “health deficiencies.” The deficiencies range from the nursing home’s food choices not meeting nutritional standards or needs, to residents not having the freedom to select their own activities, schedules, or health care, to lack of health assessments on residents by qualified professionals, according to FOX News.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In Central Florida, three people in Orlando were found dead inside a home from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, officials stated. The Daytona Beach Fire Department said on Twitter that a generator had been running inside the home. Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Williams told The Associated Press, a deputy answered a 911 call from what sounded like a juvenile. The deputy was overcome by fumes when he approached the home and called for fire rescue.
Firefighters found two people who died inside the house, reported Fox 35 Orlando. Another person, who tried to get out of the house, was found dead on the front lawn, while four other people from inside the house were taken to a nearby hospital. The rescue workers discovered a portable gasoline generator running inside the house.
A neighbor told Fox 35 that generators were not allowed in the community, and officials all over Florida are warning people to keep generators outside homes. Deaths blamed on Irma in Florida climbed to 17, in addition to four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people died in the wake of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. There were approximately 9.5 million people (slightly under half of Florida’s population) without electricity in the oppressive late-summer heat. Utility officials speculated it may take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. About 110,000 people are still in shelters across the state.
Advice on Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).