Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Even in Florida, homeless people freeze to death

Affectionately called "Bobbo" by his family, Robert Raimondo weaved in and out of their lives as he wrestled with his drinking problem. "I wish he had had some place better to stay, but he wanted to be with his friends," said his nephew.

A homeless man who spent the coldest night in six years wrapped in black garbage bags and huddled in a tent froze to death in Pompano Beach.

Robert Raimondo, 49, died of hypothermia as temperatures dipped to the low 30s, but he might have survived — if he hadn’t drank alcohol while setting up camp in some woods. Witnesses told investigators they saw Raimondo drink heavily that night.

“Hypothermia was a very important element ...” said Dr. Joshua Perper, Broward County's chief medical examiner. “An excess of alcohol certainly contributed to his death.”

Experts say the homeless are more susceptible to hypothermia because many are alcoholics, weakening their hearts and immune systems.

As Raimondo bundled up in the garbage bags, an arctic chill blowing from the north swept through South Florida. Temperatures reached a record 33 degrees in Palm Beach, but because of the wind, it felt more like 20 degrees in Broward County, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel article here.

By the way: More people have died from cold weather than from heat in Florida, says the National Weather Service. From 1979 through 1997, 113 people died from the cold, and 97 died from the heat.


At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Coalition for the Homeless said...

The recent string of frigid temperatures have left many of Florida's homeless scrambling for appropriate shelter. At Coalition for the Homeless, we offer "Cold Night" shelter whenever temperatures drop to 40 degrees or below. This means that we will not refuse any person seeking shelter, regardless of space.

Opening up our overflow space diuring "Cold Nights" has proven to be a vital service to the Central Florida community, as cases like this prove that even in "the Sunshine State" the cold can be dangerous to those without heat.

At 2:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i heared fl is nothing like it was 15-20 or so years ago. 8(

most beaches now have houses and the minorities and now the majority. so much for that.

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