Trump Tells Florida Power Chief 'Great Job' Despite 8 Deaths from Massive Outage

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre, in Tampa, Florida, on October 24, 2016. A Democratic senator wants the Treasury Department to hand over records relating to President Donald Trump’s sale of a Palm Beach estate that he bought for $41 million to a Russian oligarch for $95 million only four years later. Getty Images

Could this be President Donald Trump's "Brownie" moment?

As he toured Irma-battered areas of the Sunshine State on Thursday, the President told Florida Power and Light CEO Eric Silagy he's doing a "great job" — ignoring growing outrage over the heat-related deaths of eight residents of a Hollywood nursing home whose air conditioners failed during the storm. 

Trump didn't mention the dead senior citizens and in fact marveled that the U.S. death toll from Irma was "such a small number" as he arrived in Florida to assess the damage. 

Trump's comments were reminiscent of a similarly ill-timed remark by former President George W. Bush when he prematurely praised Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown in the gruesome aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job," Bush said in a remark that quickly became a symbol of the botched federal response to a storm that killed more than 1,800 people.

The nursing home didn't experience a full-blown outage during the storm, but it did lose a transformer that powered its air conditioning. Investigators cited the heat as the most likely cause of the deaths of five women and three men, who ranged in age from 70 to 99.

Local officials are concerned, even if the president is not. 

"I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place," Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement.

Ellie Pina — a daughter of one of the nursing home patients — told CNN she was worried something like this would happen and that she spent "the whole day" on Tuesday calling the power company to alert it about the life-threatening situation.

"[FPL] never got there. Was not interested to get there," she said, blaming Florida Power and Light, not the nursing home staff, for the deaths. 

"[FPL] kept getting calls for the last three days, but they did nothing," Pina added. 

The power company, however, said the nursing home bore at least some responsibility. 

"A portion of the facility did, in fact, have power, that there was a hospital across the parking lot from this facility and that the nursing home was required to have a permanently installed operational generator," the power company spokesman Richard Beltran told CNN.

Meanwhile, roughly 6.4 million people in the state remained without power as of Wednesday afternoon, down from 13 million.  

Florida Power and Light says it will restore power in the eastern part of the state by September 17, but customers in western Florida will have to wait until September 22. 

The electricity can't start soon enough for Florida, where the mercury will hover around 85 degrees with 75 percent humidity for most of the next 10 days.

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