The death toll from Hurricane Wilma rose to 21 in Florida, after state emergency officials reported seven more deaths Saturday in storm’s aftermath.
The deaths brought the total number of casualties from the storm — which pummeled Mexico, Haiti and Jamaica before hitting Florida — to 38.
Some people died during cleanup, others were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning or traffic accidents during power outages, Florida emergency officials said.
Among the deaths: A 51-year-old man was killed Thursday while helping repair a roof on a friend’s business; a 75-year-old man was struck Friday by a tree limb while surveying damage; and a 39-year-old woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a smoldering charcoal grill in her kitchen.
Late Saturday, a worker was killed when the mechanical excavator he was driving tumbled off a mound of hurricane debris and into some power poles, Miami fire-rescue officials said. He was not included among the 21 deaths reported Saturday.
Power may remain out for weeks
Five days after Hurricane Wilma ripped through South Florida, about 832,700 people remained without power. Electricity might not be fully restored until Nov. 22, officials warned.
Pat and Jenny Pearce, both in their 60s, set up a camping stove, two lanterns, a portable television and battery-operated radios as they wait for power to return in their suburban Fort Lauderdale home.
“I miss not having a hot shower,” Jenny Pearce said.
Others have been cooking on charcoal grills and grocery shopping every day so food wouldn’t spoil.
“I’d kill for a hot dog and a cup of coffee,” said Barbara Berger, 66, who has been living on canned fruit and tuna since the storm. “My stomach is hurting because I haven’t had a warm meal.”
Wilma was the eighth hurricane to strike or pass by Florida in 15 months. It came ashore Monday as a Category 3 storm on the southwest coast and weather officials say it was either a Category 1 or 2 with gusts of 115 mph as it slammed through Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.