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Almost 2 million, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma's wake

17 September 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump praised first responders in storm-ravaged Florida on Thursday for limiting the U.S. death toll from devastating Hurricane Irma, the second major storm to hit the United States this year.

Irma, which ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record before striking the US mainland as a Category 4 hurricane on September 10, killed at least 84 people.

Richard Beltran, a spokesman for Florida Power & Light, said Wednesday: "What we know now is that a portion of the facility did, in fact, have power, that there was a hospital across the parking lot from this facility and that the nursing home was required to have a permanently installed operational generator". North Carolina reported its first Irma-related death on Friday after a man died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and two more people died in Florida from the risky fumes, including a woman in Palm Beach County. It then plowed north up the Gulf Coast of the state before dissipating. There was no air conditioning.

At the Hollywood nursing home, Jean Lindor, a kitchen worker, said through a Haitian Creole translator that the air conditioner had not been working since the storm and it had been hot inside.

He said most of the patients admitted to hospital have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues.

The building has since been cordoned off and police and state investigators have opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of residents, whose ages range from 71 to 99. A criminal investigation is underway by Hollywood police; officials with the facility said staff members are cooperating with it and other inquiries. Eight people died at a nursing home when the hurricane knocked out power and the facility lost air conditioning.

Frum called her facility, Memorial Regional Hospital, to issue a mass casualty alert.

The Hollywood home where eight people died.

Police were first called to the facility at about 4:30 a.m. but authorities did not arrive until after 6 a.m., officials said.

Local authorities are still sorting out what exactly went wrong at the 152-bed Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Fla., where a loss of power and the apparent lack of a functional backup generator created fatal heat.

"I don't think it's just going to be the cost of getting prepared", Martinez says. "This situation is unfathomable". The statement also revealed that 150 of the 700 facilities in the state of Florida still are not operating with full power services.

City officials described the interior as "excessively hot", despite portable air coolers and fans that, according to state records, had been placed throughout the facility.

In Marathon Key, a Publix grocery store opened under police guard on Tuesday, but residents could buy only 20 items each, and no cigarettes or alcohol allowed, said 70-year-old retiree Elaine Yaquinto.

Last week, the storm killed at least 37 people in Caribbean islands, including the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, St Martin and St Barthelemy, Barbuda, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.

"My house, my business, both my vehicles, everything is gone", said Benson, who was stopping in San Juan before continuing to Boston to seek refuge with his wife's brother. "We rode out that awful storm in a shower that I had reinforced after Hurricane Marilyn", Benson added.

Almost 2 million, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma's wake