Written by Alyssa Gerace of Senior Housing News for ALFA Update
When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast around Halloween, senior living providers faced communication breakdown, power outages, and flooding as they continued caring for their residents. Some experienced extensive damage, while others counted themselves lucky.Although evacuation is sometimes necessary, keeping senior living residences operational during severe storms by proper preparation can help stem the tremendous losses that catastrophic events often incur.
A nursing home in New York City’s Rockaway Park lost power completely during the storm when its basement—where the backup generator was located—flooded, leaving the facility’s inhabitants in the dark and without heat. With no ability to keep their nearly 200 residents warm, and with insufficient food, water, and medical supplies, the nursing home was forced to evacuate, sending seniors to emergency shelters throughout the city.
Days later, some families still did not know where their loved ones were or if they had even survived the storm, according to reports. Stories like this magnify the importance of preparation for catastrophic events.
Disaster Preparedness Plans
All assisted living providers are required to have disaster plans, but while those plans are essential, they still have room for improvement.
Similar to the Rockaway Park nursing home, other buildings with basement generators also suffered huge losses, says Curran. Fortunately, she says, many assisted living communities locate their generators adjacent to the building to allow for easier fueling, saving them from flood damage.
Communication breakdown ended up being a much bigger problem, as email and phone service went down completely. The provider is now considering new communications protocol.
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