Fla. nursing home tragedy illustrates urgent need for power rest - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Fla. nursing home tragedy illustrates urgent need for power restoration; I&M crews arrive to help

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I&M crews are staging near Tampa to help restore power after Hurricane Irma I&M crews are staging near Tampa to help restore power after Hurricane Irma
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

The deaths of six nursing home residents in a Florida building left without power illustrates the desperate need to restore the flow of electricity to communities hit hard by Irma -- and local utility crews are working to do just that.

Indiana Michigan Power and local cooperatives, including Northeastern REMC, have sent trucks and line workers south to Florida and Georgia, the two states that suffered the most damage.

On Wednesday, an I& M team member reported that his crew "have finally gotten our incident command post East of Tampa and are headed there now." He said it took more than 16 hours to make it from Atlanta to Tampa -- a 480 mile trip that might normally be done in half the time.

But he added: "Guys are ready to get to our work location and start work."

The effort begins as word comes that a sixth patient from a Florida nursing home has died in aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

A news release from the city of Hollywood says that three patients were found dead in the facility early Wednesday, while others were taken to the hospital and pronounced dead there. A late morning news release said a total of six have died.

Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related. He said the building has been sealed off for the criminal investigation but didn't give further details.

The rest of the center's patients were evacuated. The center has had electricity and air-conditioning problems after Irma.

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