Criminal Probe Opened Into 8 Heat Related Deaths At Florida Nursing Home

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Eight patients at a sweltering nursing home died in Hurricane Irma's aftermath, raising fears Wednesday about the safety of Florida's 4 million senior citizens amid widespread power outages that could go on for days. (Sept. 13) AP

Hollywood Police direct people arriving on the scene asking questions about workers and loved ones near a building where more than 100 people were evacuated and up to 6 people died at The Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills due to intense heat and no power in the days following Hurricane Irma.(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Federal, state and local authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of eight nursing home residents who died of apparent heat-related causes after their facility lost air conditioning during the power outage triggered by Hurricane Irma.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on Wednesday ordered the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills temporarily closed, CBS12 and Fox reported. The development came less than a day after emergency teams descended on the nursing home early Wednesday when police got a 911 call about a heart attack.

Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said 115 people were evacuated, some in critical condition. Three people were found dead at the scene, one died during the evacuation, four were pronounced dead at a hospital.

Randy Katz, the medical director of Hollywood Memorial Hospital's emergency department, said he found a chaotic scene when he first entered the facility, which is directly across the street.

"When we were called to help, we mobilized at least 50 to 100 of our employees that left the hospital, ran down the street and pulled all of these patients out of the facility and made sure that they got to a safe place," Katz said. 

He said most of the patients were being treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and other heat-related issues. About a dozen remained in emergency care by midday Wednesday. 

The Broward County medical examiner released a statement identifying the victims as Bobby Owens, 84, Manuel Mario Medieta, 96, Miguel Antonio Franco, 92, Estella Hendricks, 71, Gail Nova, 71, Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Betty Hibbard, 84, and Albertina Vega, 99.

Sanchez said his office is working with the state attorney general's office and federal agencies to determine what kind of criminal charges may be filed against operators of the facilities.

He said they are determining exactly when the power went out and whether an on-site generator was used after losing power.

Some windows were closed when officers arrived, and they are trying to figure out whether that was an oversight or the windows were unable to open. 

The police chief said investigators are focusing on the second floor of The Rehabilitation Center, which was "extremely hot" when officers arrived. "We're examining all possibilities," he said.

In recent years, the facility had been cited by Florida Agency for Health Care Administration for problems with temporary generators.

During a February 2016 inspection, “the facility was not able to produce any written documentation, to substantiate” use of a temporary generator, according to an inspection document from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration data base.

In a December 2014 inspection, the remote generator alarm located near a nurses’ station “failed to function” when tested. The inspectors also noted in a 2014 report that it was the “second temporary generator in at least 3 or more year which did not have any approval blue prints,” as required by the agency.

The 2014 inspection — conducted by the Florida agency to determine if the facility was fulfilling safety and other requirements for nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs — found the facility Rehabilitation Center was “not in substantial compliance” and the operators were required to take a number of corrective measures, according to a letter to the facility from Florida AHCA.

Larkin Community Hospital and Jack Michel, a Miami-area doctor, are listed as having the largest ownership stakes in the nursing home, according to government documents.

In 2006, Larkin, Michel and three other doctors agreed to pay $15.4 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department alleging that in 1997 Larkin paid kickbacks to physicians in return for patient admissions.

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Jorge Carballo, the rehabilitation center’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, said the home “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."

“The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has evacuated this morning due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane," he said. "Unfortunately, early this morning several patients experienced distress and there were three fatalities at the facility and three at the hospital they were transferred to."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he will "aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place."

"Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe – especially patients who are in poor health," Scott said.  

On Wednesday afternoon in North Miami Beach, some 80 patients at the Krystal Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which also was without power, were evacuated by bus, trolley and other vehicles, WPLG-TV reports.

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Health care workers walk down streets filled with emergency equipment near Memorial Regional Hospital after eight people died and more than 100 were evacuated at The Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills because of intense heat and no power after Hurricane Irma. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

In Hollywood, Fla., Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said the victims died from the lack of air conditioning after the storm knocked out electrical power for several days.

Raelin Lohse-Storey, a spokeswoman for the city of Hollywood, said emergency crews quickly decided they needed to get everyone out.

"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," Lohse-Storey said. 

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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.

Paulburn Bogle, a member of the housekeeping staff, said the place had been hot but manageable the past few days. The staff used fans, put cold towels and ice on the patients and gave them cold drinks.

Crews also began checking the status of the other 42 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city. 

Relatives started showing up at the nursing home Wednesday afternoon trying to find out whether their loved ones were among the victims.

With the center surrounded by crime scene tape, they didn't know where to go. Police started escorting relatives behind the tape, walking them to a mobile command center set up across the street.

Gloria Flora Mitchell was looking for her sister, a 58-year-old stroke victim who can't talk.

"We don't know if she's there," she said. "We don't know nothing."

Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy called on government agencies around the state to initiate immediate welfare checks of elderly and other vulnerable people in their communities. 

Temperatures were in the 90s in much of the state on Wednesday as nearly 2 million people were still out of power on Wednesday, according to Florida Power & Light.  

"I'd really like to implore upon everyone in Florida to check on your elderly neighbors and do what you can to make sure everybody is safe," Levy said. 

The Florida Health Care Association issued a statement calling the deaths in Hollywood a "profound tragedy."

It said the association, throughout the storm,was in regular communication with its facilities to coordinate needs. That included flagging facilities without power to oversight agencies so that utilities companies could prioritizes locations with the greatest needs.

It noted that about 150 facilities out of nearly 700 in the state still did not have full power as of Wednesday.

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Destroyed trailers wait to be cleaned up at the Sunshine Key RV Resort where residents are still not allowed on Sept. 16, 2017 in Marathon, Florida. Many places in the Keys still lack water, electricity or mobile phone service and residents are still not permitted to go further south than Islamorada. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.   Angel Valentin, Getty Images>FullscreenA man looks out at the ocean from The Southernmost
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Tim Thompson, Minister of the Marathon Church of Christ, clears debris in front of the house he rents next to his church after arriving from Homestead where he and his wife Kathy evacuated to before Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sept. 16, 2017 in Marathon, Florida. Many places in the Keys still lack water, electricity or mobile phone service and residents are still not permitted to go further south than Islamorada.   Angel Valentin, Getty Images>FullscreenThe congregation of St. Peter Catholic Church  lead
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George Bueno and others in the congregation of St. Peter Catholic Church lead by Rev. Jets Medina pray during a mass held under a pavillion after their church was damaged by hurricane Irma on Sept. 17, 2017 in Big Pine Key, Florida.   Joe Raedle, Getty Images>Fullscreen"You hungry?" Kaiden Carey, 8, asks his sister Kailana
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Ryan O'Brien walks towards his devastated home on Big Pine Key as he tries to clean up after Hurricane Irma hit the Big Pine Key the area destroying most of the homes in the community.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenA Key Deer feeds among rubble on Big Pine Key after
A Key Deer feeds among rubble on Big Pine Key after Hurricane Irma hit the area destroying most of the homes in the community.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenDarwin Trabacco spends time with his pet chicken, Frankie
Darwin Trabacco spends time with his pet chicken, Frankie as he takes a break after cleaning up around his family home on Big Pine Key after Hurricane Irma hit the area destroying most of the homes in the community.   Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenAerial view of Everglades City, Fl. six days after
Aerial view of Everglades City, Fl. six days after Hurricane Irma.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAerial view of Immokalee, Fl. six days after Hurricane
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Aerial view of Imperial Bonita Estates, a mobile home park, in Bonita Springs, Fl.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAerial view of Imperial Bonita Estates, a mobile home
Aerial view of Imperial Bonita Estates, a mobile home park, in Bonita Springs on Sept. 16, 2017, six days after Hurricane Irma.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAerial view of Immokalee six days after Hurricane Irma.
Aerial view of Immokalee six days after Hurricane Irma.   Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAerial view of Immokalee and destroyed mobile homes.
Aerial view of Immokalee and destroyed mobile homes.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenA home in Immokalee sits destroyed six days after Hurricane
A home in Immokalee sits destroyed six days after Hurricane Irma.   Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenCars make their way down flooded East Terry Street
Cars make their way down flooded East Terry Street in Bonita Springs.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenFlooded Quinn Street area in Bonita Springs.
Flooded Quinn Street area in Bonita Springs.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News Via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenStephanie Matejcik gets a hug from one of her neighbors
Stephanie Matejcik gets a hug from one of her neighbors as she moves her belongings out of her home at the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla., after Hurricane Irma brought high winds and flooding to the area destroying most of the homes in the community.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenAaron Winship goes fishing, Friday, at Bathtub Beach
Aaron Winship goes fishing, Friday, at Bathtub Beach in Stuart, Fla.. In the background stands a house that Hurricane Irma caused severe beach erosion.  Scott Clause, USATODAY Network>FullscreenCongressman Mario Díaz-Balart steps foot in a home
Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart steps foot in a home affected by Hurricane Irma on Friday in Everglades City, five days after Hurricane Irma hit.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenLiza Wells registers with the Federal Emergency Management
Liza Wells registers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as her son, Zander, tries to hand her sunscreen, Friday, in Everglades City, Fla.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenGisselle Reynolds, Director of Constituent Services
Gisselle Reynolds, Director of Constituent Services for Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart, walks down the road with FEMA representative, Annette Johnson in Everglades City, five days after Hurricane Irma.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenWendy Crocker leans on her car in disbelief after she
Wendy Crocker leans on her car in disbelief after she surveyed the remains of the home she shares with her boyfriend Tom Neville at the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenTracy Hanlon checks the water level, Friday, at her
Tracy Hanlon checks the water level, Friday, at her flooded home on Pawley Avenue in Bonita Springs, Fla. The water did not rise to the second story of the bi-level home.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenPedro Castellano helps local residents load their belongings
Pedro Castellano helps local residents load their belongings from their flooded home onto a boat on Chapman Avenue in Bonita Springs on Friday. Castellano drove down from St. Petersburg to help residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenDon Manley sits for a quick break after helping residents
Don Manley sits for a quick break after helping residents load their belongings onto his boat along the flooded Quinn Street area in Bonita Springs on Friday. Manley has been ferrying residents to their flooded homes since Tuesday.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenFish swim along the bottom of a flooded Pawley Avenue
Fish swim along the bottom of a flooded Pawley Avenue in Bonita Springs, Friday.  Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News>FullscreenAn American Flag waves where a home in the Sea Breeze
An American Flag waves where a home in the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla, used to stand before it was destroyed when Hurricane Irma,  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenDarren Iorio tries to salvage as much as he can from
Darren Iorio tries to salvage as much as he can from his home at the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla. on Friday.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenResidents of Sea Breeze Resort in survey the damage
Residents of Sea Breeze Resort in survey the damage to the homes in the mobile home community.  Kelly Jordan, USA>FullscreenA home built under the current building codes to protect
A home built under the current building codes to protect against hurricanes is still standing in the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla., as others are ripped completely apart after Hurricane Irma brought high winds and flooding.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenFamily photos lie on Cristina Lopez's couch while water
Family photos lie on Cristina Lopez's couch while water still stands in her home on Pawley Avenue in Bonita Springs, Friday.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenLouis Sarangi  and Carlos Hernandez and direct a boat
Louis Sarangi and Carlos Hernandez and direct a boat carrying their new generator to their home in Bonita Springs, Fla. four days after Hurricane Irma hit their neighborhood, Sept. 14, 2017,  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News vai the USA TO>FullscreenSome of the many sunken fishing boats at Postcard Inn
Some of the many sunken fishing boats at Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorda, Fla. following hurricane Irma, Sep 14, 2017.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenFlood waters touch the bottom of a mailbox along the
Flood waters touch the bottom of a mailbox along the Quinn Street area in Bonita Springs, Fla, Sept. 14, 2017.   Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News vai the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenSteven Dobkins owner of Keys Marine Towing and Salvage
Steven Dobkins owner of Keys Marine Towing and Salvage in Key Largo, Fla. , works to clear the marina so he can launch his boats to retrieve other damaged boats, Sept. 14, 2017.   Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenPedro Gonzalez and Cornelia Leon grab belongings from
Pedro Gonzalez and Cornelia Leon grab belongings from their flooded house on in Bonita Springs, Fla four days after Hurricane Irma.   Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News vai the USA TODAY Network>Fullscreenhis is Bud N' Mary's Marina damaged By Hurricane Irma,
his is Bud N' Mary's Marina damaged By Hurricane Irma, in Islamorada, Fla. Sept. 14, 2017.   Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenJacob Daffin starts to throw out items from his grandmother's
Jacob Daffin starts to throw out items from his grandmother's shed in Everglades City, Fla. after Hurricane Irma.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenA man rides his bike by a trailer that was destroyed
A man rides his bike by a trailer that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Fla.  Dorothy Edwards, Naples Daily News>FullscreenPresident Donald Trump arrives at Southwest International
President Trump arrives at Southwest International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla. The President will visit areas that were damaged by Hurricane Irma.   Kinfay Moroti, The News-Press >FullscreenA man sweeps a garage out after Hurricane Irma flooded
A man sweeps a garage out after Hurricane Irma flooded it in Jacksonville.  Mike DeSisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel >FullscreenA pile of rubble sits in the center of Naples Estates
A pile of rubble sits in the center of Naples Estates in Naples, Fla.   Luke Franke, Naples Daily News>FullscreenAndris Flores, 8, plays in front of his family's trailer
Andris Flores, 8, plays in front of his family's trailer that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Fla. Eustolia Flores and her four children set up a tent outside of their trailer to sleep in until their neighbor purchases a generator. The family is staying with neighbors in their trailer next door.   Dorothy Edwards, Naples Daily News>FullscreenA mobile home in Oak Park in Alva. Fla. that was heavily
A mobile home in Oak Park in Alva, Fla., that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma.   Andrew West, The News-Press>FullscreenRay Yarbrough picks up the pieces of his damaged home
Ray Yarbrough picks up the pieces of his damaged home in Oak Park in Alva, Fla.   Andrew West, The News-Press>FullscreenRobby Daffin sorts through family photos that were
Robby Daffin sorts through family photos that were damaged by floodwaters and sludge in Everglades City, Fla., after Hurricane Irma. "I didn't know these were in there," Daffinsaid.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenLisa Marteeny sweeps sludge from one room to another
Lisa Marteeny sweeps sludge from one room to another as her husband Lee sits on the front porch in Everglades City, Fla.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenDamaged boats litter the canals in Marathon, Fla. after
Damaged boats litter the canals in Marathon, Fla. after hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys, Sept. 14, 2017.  Rodney White, Michael Zamora/, The Register via the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenYvonne Trebilcock, 70, wades through her flooded yard
Yvonne Trebilcock, 70, wades through her flooded yard in front of her home along the Santa Fe River in LaCrosse, Alachua County, Fla. Sept. 14, 2017. "It's never ever been that high," she said referring to the water level that was within a few feet of reaching her home, which is without water or electricity thanks to hurricane Irma last weekend. Trebilcock, who lives at the home with her husband said she gets flooding occasionally, but never to the extent that Irma brought.  Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via the USA TODAY Nertwork>FullscreenA damaged boat barn can be seen in Marathon, Fla. after
A damaged boat barn can be seen in Marathon, Fla. after hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys, Sept. 14, 2017.   Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Register via the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenMarty Walton an underground lineman with JEA electric,
Marty Walton, an underground lineman with JEA electric, stands near his truck as the sun sets where he and his crew were working to restore electricity on San Marco Blvd. in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017, after Hurricane Irma.  Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via the USA TODAY Nertwork>FullscreenMarj Phinizy sits on her doorstep in Jacksonville,
Marj Phinizy sits on her doorstep in Jacksonville, Fla., after Hurricane Irma left her with flooding and a large amount of debris, Sept. 13, 2017.   Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via the USA TODAY Nertwork>FullscreenAlex Rivero checks out storm damage in the Long Key
Alex Rivero checks out storm damage in the Long Key Outdoor Resorts neighborhood following the passage of Hurricane Irma in Long Key, Fla. Sept. 12, 2017.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenCampers litter the ground in an RV park in the Florida
Campers litter the ground in an RV park in the Florida Keys.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage on Cudjoe Key, Fla.
Hurricane Irma damage on Cudjoe Key, Fla.   Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage on Upper Sugarloaf Key, Fla.
Hurricane Irma damage on Upper Sugarloaf Key, Fla.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAdam Goode gets extra gas after waiting nearly two
Adam Goode gets extra gas after waiting nearly two hours at Love's in North Fort Myers, Fla.   Amanda Inscore, News-Press via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenBoaters pass by an overturned vessel in Key West, Fla.
Boaters pass by an overturned vessel in Key West, Fla.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenNancy Daffin holds her hand over her mouth as she walks
Nancy Daffin walks through her destroyed home on Plantation Island in Everglades City, Fla. "I don't know what I'm going to do," Daffin said.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenRobby Daffin consoles his mother, Nancy Daffin, as
Robby Daffin consoles his mother, Nancy Daffin, as she returns to her destroyed home on Plantation Island for the first time after Hurricane Irma in Everglades City, Fla.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenCrystal Holler waits for her clothes to dry in the
Crystal Holler waits for her clothes to dry in the garage of her neighbor's home in Chokoloskee, Fla. "All of my clothes came flying out of the house," said Holler. She returned home to find her clothing covered in mud in her yard.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenDave Stroshein helps his wife Linda through the flood
Dave Stroshein helps his wife Linda through the flood water and debris at Citrus Park in Bonita Springs, Fla. The Strosheins came back to check on their home for the first time since the storm, which was luckily still standing.   Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenA boat dips into the canal as houses in Cudjoe Key,
A boat dips into the canal as houses in Cudjoe Key, Fla., show damage from Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenDave Stroshein inspects the flooding in his shed at
Dave Stroshein inspects the flooding in his shed at Citrus Park in Bonita Springs, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017 after Hurricane Irma.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenWater surrounds many of the homes like these in North
Water surrounds many of the homes like these in North Fort Myers, Fla., after Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017.  Craig Bailey, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenPeople pick up food and water from Collier County and
People pick up food and water from Collier County and Meals of Hope outside of Immokalee High School in Immokalee, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017.   Dorothy Edwards, Naples Daily News, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenPeople wait in line for food and water from the Collier
People wait in line for food and water from the Collier County and Meals of Hope outside of Immokalee High School in Immokalee, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017.   Dorothy Edwards, Naples Daily News, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenCrews from Xtreme Powerline Construction from Port
Crews from Xtreme Powerline Construction from Port Huron, Mich., work on downed power lines in Rockledge, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.   Tim Shortt, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenIslande Dillon check to see if she has water in Key
Islande Dillon checks to see if she has water in Key Largo, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017. Dillon and her son traveled to check on their home after Hurricane Irma.  Andrea Melendez, News-Press, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenSections of the roof are seen peeled off on the Bayside
Sections of the roof are seen peeled off on the Bayside Hotel on Sept. 13, 2017, in Key West, Fla., after Hurricane Irma.   Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenScenes along Fiske Blvd. in Rockledge, Fla. on Sept.
Scenes along Fiske Blvd. in Rockledge, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.   Tim Shortt, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenA sign crew repairs the Rockledge Christian Center
A sign crew repairs the Rockledge Christian Center sign in Rockledge, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017.   Tim Shortt, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenA gas station in Key West shows signs of damage on
A gas station in Key West, Fla., shows signs of damage on Sept. 13, 2017, days after Hurricane Irma ripped through the Florida Keys.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenSea Breeze RV and Mobile Home Park in Islamorada, FL,
Sea Breeze RV and Mobile Home Park in Islamorada, Fla., was devastated by Hurricane Irma. Many of the mobile home owners were in the park on Sept. 13, 2017, trying to salvage anything they could from their homes.  Andrea Melendez, News-Press, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenWater surrounds many of the homes in the Corkscrew
Water surrounds many of the homes in the Corkscrew Woodlands development in Estero, Fla., after Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017.   Craig Bailey, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenDamage in the community of Goodland, near Marco Island
Damage in the community of Goodland, Fla., near Marco Island after Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017.   Craig Bailey, Florida Today, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenGeorge Lopez talks about how there is nothing left
George Lopez talks about how there is nothing left of his mobile home in Sea Breeze RV and Mobile Home Park in Islamorada, Fla.  Andrea Melendez, News-Press, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenBill Quinn stands on the foundation where his home
Bill Quinn stands on the foundation where his home once stood in Islamorada, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017. He escaped to a neighbor's home to ride out the storm, but emerged to find his mobile home destroyed.   Andrea Melendez, News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWOR>FullscreenRalph Gruver pulls a piece of aluminum siding from
Ralph Gruver pulls a piece of aluminum siding from the flooded road at Citrus Park in Bonita Springs, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017 after Hurricane Irma.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News, USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenBoats at a dock after Hurricane Irma in Lakeland, Fla.
Boats at a dock after Hurricane Irma in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017.   Craig Bailey, Florida Today, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenDrivers waited for nearly two hours to get gas in North
Drivers waited for nearly two hours to get gas in North Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 13, 2017. Most southwest Florida gas stations had similar long lines.  Amanda Inscore, News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenHollywood Police direct people arriving on the scene
Hollywood Police direct people arriving on the scene at The Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills, Fla., following Hurricane Irma.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenLisa Daniels quickly scans through her home in Chokoloskee,
Lisa Daniels quickly scans through her home in Chokoloskee, Fla. "It's overwhelming. I just don't know where to start," Daniels said. "I got to get help from FEMA."  Luke Franke, Naples Daily News>FullscreenHealthcare workers walk down the street near Memorial
Healthcare workers walk down the street near Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., after five residents at a Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma died after a loss of air conditioning during the outage, Broward County officials said Wednesday. Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said another 115 patients were evacuated, including several in critical condition. His office immediately started a criminal investigation, but Sanchez did not indicate specifically what the office was looking for. "We're not ruling anything out," he said. The victims were found inside the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and the Larkin Community Hospital, which sit in a medical complex surrounded by a larger children's hospital.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenJoey Spalding takes a break from cleaning his home,
Joey Spalding takes a break from cleaning his home, which had nearly 3 feet of floodwater enter during a record high tide from Tropical Storm Irma on Tybee Island, Ga.  Josh Morgan, The Greenville News>FullscreenRamon Almarez checks on his home in Chokoloskee, Fla.
Ramon Almarez checks on his home in Chokoloskee, Fla., which is caked in a thick layer of mud because of storm surge from Hurricane Irma.  Luke Franke, Naples Daily News>FullscreenA man rides his bike down a debris  covered street
A man rides his bike down a debris covered street in Key West.  Scott Clause, The Advertiser, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenLayers of paint were stripped from the Southernmost
Layers of paint were stripped from the Southernmost Point marker in Key West by Hurricane Irma.  Scott Clause, The Advertiser, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenA checkpoint near Homestead, Fla. where authorities
A checkpoint near Homestead, Fla., where authorities are only allowing residents and business owners to travel south on Hwy 1 towards the Keys.   Scott Clause, The Advertiser, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenMacrina Cruz cooks the last of her family's food on
Macrina Cruz cooks the last of her family's food on a propane heated portable stove in front of her Immokalee, Fla., home. Cruz's family evacuated before the storm and planned on buying more food there, but many stores were out or had gouged the prices.   Dorothy Edwards, Naples Daily News>FullscreenKalen Kivodeaux, 16, left, and his brother Ivan, 13,
Kalen Kivodeaux, 16, left, and his brother Ivan, 13, clear debris from outside their grandmother Lisa Daniels house as residents begin to assess and repair damage from Hurricane Irma in Chokoloskee, Fla.  Luke Franke, Naples Daily News>FullscreenPatrick Zientara removes the plywood from the windows
Patrick Zientara removes the plywood from the windows of a friend's home in Tampa.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenDamage from Hurricane Irma to the lower Florida Keys.
Damage from Hurricane Irma to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenDebris cleared from Hwy 1 in the Florida Keys.
Debris cleared from Hwy 1 in the Florida Keys.  Scott Clause, The Advertiser, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenMobile homes damaged by winds from Hurricane Irma at
Mobile homes damaged by winds from Hurricane Irma at the Marathon Airport in Marathon, Fla.  Scott Clause, The Advertiser, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenTybee Beach, Ga residents gather at Nickie's 1971 for
Tybee Beach, Ga., residents gather at Nickie's 1971 for food and drinks after a record high tide caused by Tropical Storm Irma.  Josh Morgan, The Greenville News>FullscreenDamaged RVs and palm trees in the Florida Keys.
Damaged RVs and palm trees in the Florida Keys.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenA damaged boat sits in the water near a dock on the
A damaged boat sits in the water near a dock on the Florida Keys.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenA crab walks across a street in the Florida Keys.
A crab walks across a street in the Florida Keys.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenJames Sullivan, 22, left, and Cody Cowpland, 22, walk
James Sullivan, 22, left, and Cody Cowpland, 22, walk across a bridge in the Florida Keys while making a beer run.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenA damaged sailboat boat sits in the water off Key West.
A damaged sailboat boat sits in the water off Key West.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenA mother and daughter walk past a damaged sailboat
A mother and daughter walk past a damaged sailboat washed up on the beach of Key West.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to Cudjoe Key, Fla.
Hurricane Irma damage to Cudjoe Key, Fla.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenBoats tied up away from docks in a waterway in the
Boats tied up away from docks in a waterway in the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenWater covered roads in Bonita Springs, Fla.
Water covered roads in Bonita Springs, Fla.   Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to Cape Sable Lakes homes in
Hurricane Irma damage to Cape Sable Lakes homes in East Naples, Fla.  Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to Cape Sable Lakes homes in
Hurricane Irma damage to Cape Sable Lakes homes in East Naples, Fla.  Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register>FullscreenPaulino Ortiz, 46, and his son carry a barrel of belongings
Paulino Ortiz, 46, and his son carry a barrel of belongings from their house through floodwater from Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla.  Nicole Raucheisen, Naples Daily News>FullscreenResidents line up for a meal at Kretch's on Marco Island,
Residents line up for a meal at Kretch's on Marco Island, Fla. Kretch's and CJ's teamed up to feed hot meals to those without power.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenKristian Schomburg throws debris into a pile while
Kristian Schomburg throws debris into a pile while cleaning up after Hurricane Irma at the Snook Inn on Marco Island, Fla.   Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenRoberto Valesquez pressure washes the parking lot at
Roberto Valesquez pressure washes the parking lot at the Snook Inn on Marco Island, Fla., after Hurricane Irma.  Katie Klann, Naples Daily News>FullscreenDamage caused by Hurricane Irma to  Cudjoe Key.
Damage caused by Hurricane Irma to Cudjoe Key.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenHurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma damage to the lower Florida Keys.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenResidents walk  back to their homes in the Lehigh Acres
Residents walk back to their homes in the Lehigh Acres area outside Fort Myers, Fla.   Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register>FullscreenResidents survey the damage at Memorial Park in the
Residents survey the damage at Memorial Park in the Riverside section of Jacksonville.  Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY>FullscreenRonnie Biggs drags a gas grill through his brother's
Ronnie Biggs drags a gas grill through his brother's flooded yard on in the Suncoast Estates trailer park in North Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017. Biggs and his family will use the grill to boil water.  Kinfay Moroti, The News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenThese homes are damaged in East Naples, Fla Sept. 11,
These homes are damaged in East Naples, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.  Michael Zamora, The Register, via the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenEnrique Padron puts down plastic to cover a hole in
Enrique Padron puts down plastic to cover a hole in his girlfriend's roof a day after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Naples Manor area.  Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenColleen Watts-Lyons and her 9-month-old twins Thomas
Colleen Watts-Lyons and her 9-month-old twins Thomas and Kevin are among the hundreds of families struggling to survive after Hurricane Irma devastated the Suncoast Estates trailer park in North Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.   Kinfay Moroti, The News-Press, via the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenJerry Martin strips metal from his camper that was
Jerry Martin strips metal from his camper that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Suncoast Estates trailer park in North Fort Myers, Fla. Martin, a former Marine, plans on selling the scrap to help rebuild, Sept. 11, 2017.   Kinfay Moroti, The News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenDonald Irwin and his family are among the hundreds
Donald Irwin and his family are among the hundreds struggling to survive after Hurricane Irma devastated the Suncoast Estates trailer park in North Fort Myers, Fla. Sept. 11, 2017.   Kinfay Moroti, The News-Press, via the USA TODAY Network>FullscreenThe Veterans Memorial Park pier is heavily damaged
The Veterans Memorial Park pier is heavily damaged after Hurricane Irma in Titusville, Fla.   Tim Shortt, Florida Today, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenRichard Norwak wades through the water as he tries
Richard Norwak wades through the water as he tries to check on his house a day after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Holiday Manor area of Naples.  Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenRichard Norwak retrieves a letter from his mailbox
Richard Norwak retrieves a letter from his mailbox a day after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Holiday Manor area of Naples, Fla.  Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register, via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenA lone umbrella is set up on Miami Beach on the day
A lone umbrella is set up on Miami Beach on the day after Hurricane Irma.   Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenSunshine Boulevard in Lehigh Acres was flooded at the
Sunshine Boulevard in Lehigh Acres was flooded at the Harns Marsh area because of heavy rainfall that came with Hurricane Irma.  Andrew West, The News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenAustin Gilchrist, an employee of the City of Fort Myers
Austin Gilchrist, an employee of the City of Fort Myers Beach trims fallen trees on the south end of Fort Myers Beach.  Andrew West, The News-Press, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenDamage left behind following Hurricane Irma in Marco
Damage left behind following Hurricane Irma in Marco Island, Fla.  Rodney White and Michael Zamora, The Des Moines Register>FullscreenA boat, whose owner ran it aground  to have a chance
A boat, whose owner ran it aground to have a chance at saving it before it sunk during Hurricane Irma sits on shore in Titusville, Fla.  Tim Shortt, Florida Today, via USA TODAY NETWORK>FullscreenPeople hang out near the flooded walkway off River
People hang out near the flooded walkway off River Street as a high tide and Tropical Storm Irma activity causes major flooding in Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 11, 2017.  Josh Morgan, The Greenville News via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenMiami Beach shut down to car traffic on Sept. 11, 2017
Miami Beach shut down to car traffic on Sept. 11, 2017, one day after Hurricane Irma hit Florida. Police would allow residents to walk from Venetian Island checkpoints across the bridges into Miami Beach. Miami Beach will allow all residents back into Miami Beach on Sept. 12 at noon.  Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>FullscreenAerial photos show the damage left behind in Irma's
Aerial photos show the damage left behind in Irma's wake on Sept. 11, 2017, at the Holiday Manor neighborhood in Naples, Fla.  Rodney White, Michael Zamora, The Register via USA TODAY Network>FullscreenQuiet day on Miami Beach on Sept. 11, 2017 one day
Quiet day on Miami Beach on Sept. 11, 2017, one day after Hurricane Irma hit Florida. Miami Beach will allow all residents back into Miami Beach on Sept. 12 at noon after checking all bridges.   Jack Gruber, USA TODAY>Fullscreen

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