A breaking situation in South Florida tonight is raising new concerns for people living in nursing homes.
Eight people are dead and dozens of others are still evacuating a Hollywood, Florida nursing home that lost power in the storm and struggled to have air conditioning for the last few days.
A tragic scene is what everyone wants to avoid. Patients had to be pulled out of a hot nursing home after others there died.
Unfortunately, there are still some nursing homes that don't have power in Tampa Bay and while all are required to have generators, they don't have to be able to provide air conditioning when the power is out.
It was a chaotic scene at a Hollywood nursing home this morning, as rescue workers weary from the hurricane scrambled to save 115 seniors from the heat.
Eight patients died of heat-related illnesses because their air conditioning never came back on after Hurricane Irma. They perished in the heat, even though there's a hospital just yards away.
“We're conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths that occurred,” said Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez.
In Tampa Bay, other nursing home residents baked in the heat.
Baytree Center in Palm Harbor lost power Sunday. The facility’s generator failed multiple times Monday, after the home plugged in small air conditioning units to try to cool it down.
The Palm Harbor Fire Department brought in portable air conditioners to cool patients until Duke Energy crews can restore power. The department said paramedics made four runs to the nursing home and transported multiple patients to local hospitals.
“Phone call after phone call of people wanting to come and help,” said volunteer Chris Thompson, who lives near the Bayshore Pointe Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Tampa.
Thompson helped take boards off 62 residents' windows at the facility, which is located on Gandy Blvd. They have partial power and a generator at the facility, but are unable to run their central air conditioning unit.
“It's hard on us. Somebody that's older that has medical issues it's got to be very, very hard for them,” said Thompson.
As the temperature inside topped 80 degrees, staff did what they could to help residents.
“They had a bunch of fans, a lot of fans they purchased. They were going to Walmart to buy stuff to try to do as much as they can to try to alleviate some of the heat and issues they have,” Thompson said.
The administrator, who did not want to talk on camera, said he was in contact with TECO several times today and was assured that power will be restored soon.