Dozens with special needs still without power in St. Pete, must remain at shelter for now

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – At least 50 people with special needs will have to remain in a shelter for now, while crews in St. Petersburg work to get their power turned back on.

Hurricane Irma was Carol Norton’s first hurricane. She knew she couldn’t hunker down at home.

“I didn’t really want to leave my home, but I knew mobile homes go down fast so,” said Norton.

Norton has breathing issues and relies on electricity for her oxygen tank. Without it, she could die.

She came to John Hopkins Middle School, one of three designated shelters for people with special needs.

“The people were very friendly here and took us in and took good care of us,” she said.

More than 400 people with special needs were transported to the middle school by St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue crews before the storm.

Dozens of nurses and volunteers were on hand to help.

“We were helping people with their breathing treatments, some people are bed bound, so they need help with going to the bathroom and taking medications on time,” said nurse Gina Norris.

“Whatever they asked, if we could do it, we would,” said Andrea Peaten, a volunteer with The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County.

Many were able to leave Tuesday.

“I can take a shower, number one on my list. And a bed, a nice bed,” said Moira Rossow, who was headed to a friend’s house.

But, others like Norton still don’t have power and will remain at the shelter for now.

“I’m glad we’re all safe,” said Norton.

Because Pinellas County Schools are preparing to reopen Monday, the remaining 50 people without electricity were taken to a step down shelter set up at Dunedin Community Center.

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