President Trump praises Irma recovery efforts


FORT MYERS, Florida - President Donald Trump is praising the recovery efforts in Florida before departing for the state to survey damage from Hurricane Irma.

The president told reporters at the White House that "power is being turned on rapidly," and the state's leaders and emergency responders are doing an "amazing job" in helping the state respond to the massive storm.

Trump was traveling to Naples and Fort Myers on Florida's southwestern coast to meet with those affected by the hurricane and learn more about relief efforts. Trump was being joined by Vice President Mike Pence and was also traveling with first lady Melania Trump.

His trip to Florida follows two earlier outings in which Trump reviewed recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey in late August.


7:30 a.m.

Fire rescue teams have evacuated 122 people from two assisted living facilities near Orlando after the Orange County fire chief order firefighters to assess conditions of all elderly communities in the area following the deaths of eight at another nursing home.

Fire Spokeswoman Kat Kennedy told local news outlets that Brookdale Wekiwa Springs and Green Tree Assisted Living had been without power since Hurricane Irma crossed Florida earlier this week. Officials evacuated 82 residents from Brookdale on Wednesday night and 40 from Green Tree.

Kennedy says 66 patients were transported by bus and 16 were picked up by family members.

Mary Ann Lettore tells WESH that she picked up her father from Brookdale on Wednesday because he'd fallen and cut his arm during the storm. She took him to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with dehydration.

Kennedy says the residents were obviously "very hot." She said she doesn't have information on how often they were provided food and water.

Eight residents died at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning.


6:50 a.m.

Sheriff's officials in Florida say two men are accused of trying to steal a $2,500 utility pole days after Hurricane Irma caused severe flooding in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Sheriff's officials say 42-year-old Blake Lee Waller and 46-year-old Victor Walter Apeler were arrested on grand theft charges Wednesday after someone reported seeing them load the pole onto a sports utility vehicle.

A police report says an officer noticed a light pole missing from an area on top of a bridge and then spotted a vehicle driving with the pole on top. He stopped the vehicle and arrested the men.

The report says Apeler told investigators he was moving the pole because it was on the ground so close to traffic lanes. A database search found Apeler had 72 scrap metal-related transactions for recycling since January.

A picture of the shirtless men sitting handcuffed on the sidewalk quickly drew attention on the sheriff's office Twitter feed.


3 a.m.

Florida emergency workers have been urged to immediately check the welfare of those in nursing homes after eight people died in a scorching facility that lost its air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.

Victims Wednesday at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were as old as 99, and there were worries the count could grow.

Sen. Bill Nelson called the deaths "inexcusable."

Elsewhere in South Florida, other alarms were sounded for older residents.

In Coral Gables, an apartment building was evacuated after authorities said its lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants.

And at the huge, 15,000-resident Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines, where there were also widespread outages, rescue workers went door to door in the 94-degree heat checking on residents and bringing ice, water and meals.

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