Rita evacuations lead to complications, deaths

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Hurricane Rita touched down this weekend, dealing another stinging blow to the already vulnerable Gulf Coast. Providers and residents struggled to escape the region's second major hurricane in less than a month.

Federal agencies with the help of Black Hawk helicopters rescued 83 nursing home residents Saturday night from a Texas elementary school where power had been out for more than 24 hours.

Residents from the Pine Forest nursing home in Beaumont were evacuated last Thursday morning 50 miles north to the school in Fred, Texas. Nurses reportedly stayed around the clock with the residents throughout the evacuation. A nurse who met the military outside the school at 11 a.m. Saturday said four residents were on respirators and that generators were running out of gas.

Also last week, a bus bound for Dallas loaded with assisted living residents and their caregivers exploded early Friday on a traffic-jammed interstate. At least 24 people died and another 13 were injured after the bus caught fire, according to witnesses.

The bus was coming from the Brighton Gardens center in Bellaire, near Houston. The vehicle was transporting 38 long-term care residents and six employees, according to McLean, VA-based Sunrise Senior Living, which owns the center.

A front-brake problem apparently ignited a fire, which moved quickly through the vehicle. The spreading fire apparently caused several oxygen tanks to explode, according to witnesses. Most survivors were sitting in the front of the bus.