MIAMI BEACH, Fla. ― Six people died at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning system, officials said Wednesday.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief confirmed the deaths Wednesday morning during a news conference. The facility, which has been identified as the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, evacuated 115 residents.
“To my knowledge and to my understanding, what I have right now, there’s a total of five deaths from the same facility,” Sharief said. “Three occurred at the facility and two, on arrival to the hospital, were pronounced deceased.”
CBS News reports that a sixth person died later that morning.
Broward County fire rescue crews received calls from the nursing home around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. When they arrived on the scene, they found “a number of people in respiratory distress and other distress,” according to Raelin Storey, a spokeswoman for the city of Hollywood.
“Once we determined that we had multiple deaths at the facilities and that the facilities are extremely hot, we made the decision to evacuate all of the patients,” Storey said at a news conference.
Many of the patients were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the rehab center, she said.
Local ABC affiliate WPLG spoke to the air conditioner repairman who had been trying to fix the rehab center’s cooling system.
Airstron employee Dave Long told WPLG that he had called Florida Power & Light several times over a period of days, requesting the company fix a broken fuse that had popped out during Irma.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Long said. “We’ve been calling and calling… It just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I can’t do anything until we get that fuse popped back in.”
Bill Orlove, a spokesman for FP&L, didn’t immediately comment on whether the company was aware of an issue at the Hollywood Hills rehab center, but offered “deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died.”
“We urge our customers who have electricity dependent medical needs and who don’t have power to call 911 if it’s a life-threatening situation,” Orlove told HuffPost in an email. “Check availability of local special needs shelters. They may have A/C, medical supplies, staff and services to assist people with special needs and in some cases, at-risk seniors with special needs.”
Hollywood police Chief Tomas Sanchez said Wednesday that his department has…