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Westminster Oaks Advocate: Three-Day Wait For PowerToo Long

One of Tallahassee’s most vulnerable communities waited three days to get power restored after Hurricane Hermine, and an industry advocate isn’t the only one concerned.

With nearly 700 residents, Westminster Oaks is one of Tallahassee’s largest and best known retirement communities. So Steve Bahmer, CEO of non-profit Leading Age Florida, wonders why it took three days to restore power after Hurricane Hermine.

Bahmer sees a need for better planning.

“How do we ensure that those who are the most vulnerable in Tallahassee, those seniors who rely on power for essential medical care, are high on the list of priorities in the even that something like this happens again.”

Westminster executive director Don Wilson says generators kept the lights on for 120 nursing home residents, but not air conditioning.

“So we had windows open and fans running and ice water and other cold drinks and we monitored the residents and the temperatures as best we could and everybody did really well under some difficult situations.”

Tallahassee resident Sally West told city commissioners her parents were told they were a priority for restoring power when they moved into Westminster.

“My dad remarked that if that’s a priority they were going to ask to be taken off the priority list because I actually got my power back before they did.”

Commissioner Scott Maddox said the options are limited – massive rate increases to pay for strengthening the grid, or cutting down Tallahassee’s signature trees.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.