Power back on at Palm Harbor assisted living facility after 8 On Your Side gets involved

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) — There is welcomed relief Thursday night for 52 residents at the assisted living facility St. Mark Village at Highland Lakes in Palm Harbor.

The power has been out since Saturday, when winds started to gust from Hurricane Irma. 8 On Your Side got involved on Wednesday night, and spent all day Thursday calling lawmakers and Duke Energy. By late afternoon, the power was back on.

“We are so happy,” said Sheila Kynion, facility administrator. “Residents are cheering up and down the halls here.”

Earlier in the day, Kynion was frustrated.

“I have staff that are still maintaining here, they’re still checking on the residents, they are being very diligent, they are continuing to provide nutrition and hydration during this time,” Kynion said Thursday morning.

The power is now back on, but power outages at senior centers after the recent storm is bringing to light a problem. Not all centers are required to have backup generators or evacuate during a power outage. Assisted living facilities do not, even though nursing homes do.

In this case, two residents who depend on oxygen were evacuated to a nearby nursing home, but the rest stayed.

On Wednesday, portable coolers and a generator were brought in, but family members were concerned, and some picked up their loved ones to get them some air conditioning.

That’s what Rob Shaw did. He picked up his father for the day. Shaw said facilities like this one should do more to protect residents.

“People pay thousands of dollars a month to have their loved ones taken care of,” Shaw said. “I want them taken care of above and beyond what the government stipulates.”

Congressman Gus Bilirakis said he agrees with families and is already working on a plan to change state law requirements.

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