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Elderly residents trapped in Jacksonville highrise after Irma

Elevator at Riverside condo complex flooded during hurricane

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As residents around Jacksonville wait for power to be restored to their homes following Hurricane Irma, several people living in a Riverside highrise have become trapped.

At the Broadview Towers condominium complex near Memorial Park, some elderly residents are stuck as high as 14 stories up after Irma flooded the first floor, including the elevators, and knocked out electricity.

The 48 residents in the complex are without air conditioning and lights and are praying for some relief as JEA works feverishly to overcome extensive damage in the area and restore power.

The 14-story climb to the top of the complex is hot, muggy and dark. 

People of all ages live in the condo building, but there are a lot of elderly residents, which is why the condo’s manager is even more concerned.

“(We need) electricity, elevators and then helping everybody empty all the refrigerators and getting it downstairs,” said Susan Williams, facilities manager for Broadview Towers. “(It will take) the rest of the week.”

Rose Judge, who turned 91 last September, lives halfway up the tower.

“It's hot,” she said of living without AC since Irma blew through. “(But) it's just one of those things you have to go through while living on this earth.”

Her family has been checking on her.

Cars at the complex have been destroyed and the electrical system is fried, but the spirit of those who live there isn’t broken.

“We've had a good response from our people,” Williams said. “They all understand. Everybody is hot, and they're all willing to pitch in.”

Dozens of nursing homes without power in Florida

Elderly residents without power have become an even more heightened concern after the deaths of eight residents in a Broward County nursing home facility.

The Florida Health Care Association, an industry group, said it was informed that 64 of the state's 683 nursing homes did not have full power services restored as of Thursday morning.

Also, information released by the state indicated 44 nursing homes were evacuated or closed.

Authorities are investigating the deaths early Wednesday of eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which said it lost a transformer that powered its air-conditioning system. 

The Florida Health Care Association said in a prepared statement that it is in contact with utilities and state, local and federal officials to try to get power restored to every nursing home as soon as possible. 

“The investigation into this tragedy (at the Broward County facility) and the circumstances that may have contributed to it continues, and it would be inappropriate to comment on details until it concludes,” the association said. “However, it is clear that this is an isolated incident and is not representative of the larger long-term care profession in Florida.” 

But the NAACP Florida State Conference put out a statement saying it “demands justice” for the deaths and called for steps such as increased oversight and enforcement efforts by the state Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Children and Families. 

“We are disgusted and outraged at the clear neglect and lack of care for our most vulnerable at a Hollywood nursing home. … This tragic situation raises many questions, and we demand answers,” Adora Obi Nweze, the NAACP state president, said in the statement.

 

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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