North Carolina

NC nursing home employees stay with patients too ill to evacuate Hurricane Florence

A resident and his wife were sheltering at a nursing home in North Carolina ahead of Florence.
A resident and his wife were sheltering at a nursing home in North Carolina ahead of Florence. USA Today video/Screenshot

Hurricane Florence lashed at the East Coast of the United States Friday morning, sending huge swells of water through streets, toppling trees and damaging buildings.

The Category 1 storm was still extremely dangerous as it made landfall Friday, and is expected to move inland into North Carolina and through South Carolina before turning north early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

But as thousands of people evacuated the coast of North Carolina, some nursing home patients and staff looked at the oncoming hurricane and prepared to shelter in place.

Now, hunkered down inside, they’re waiting to come out on the other side of the storm.

“Those people who are critical care … it would be difficult for us to move them hours away,” said Charles Long, CEO of the Davis Community nursing home in Wilmington, N.C., according to ABC News. “We may get stuck on the bus, in traffic, and it would be very difficult to care for them.”

The facility’s community relations administrator, Julie L. Rehder, said it was one of the safest places to be in the county, and that residents from other facilities would be coming to the building to shelter as well, the Wilmington Star News reported.

In both North and South Carolina, it is up to individual nursing homes to decide if they will stay open or evacuate during a major weather event, according to the Washington Post. The Davis Community decided to stay open.

So did the Trinity Grove nursing home in Myrtle Grove, N.C., USA Today reported.

“You know, you just hunker down,” the wife of one resident said, according to the site. “See what happens. You go with the flow, how about that?”

In the days before the storm hit, the Davis Community took to Facebook to assure concerned relatives that the complex was prepared for the storm.

“Our buildings are one of the safest places to be in the county and we intend to shelter in place. The hurricane shutters have either been closed or are in the process of being closed. Food and water deliveries have been made. Employees are prepared to stay to meet the needs of our residents. Medical supplies are in place. Our campus is fully powered by generators in case of a power outage,” the nursing home wrote. “Most importantly, everyone at Davis is ready to act on behalf of our residents. We will get through this ordeal together. Thank you for your good thoughts and prayers.”

Davis Community posted photos of the preparations showing stockpiles of food and water, one of several generators and a few smiling guest residents who would wait out the storm alongside Davis’s residents.

One of those guests was Bob Derbyshire, who celebrated his 70th anniversary with his wife, who is staying at the Davis Community while being treated for dementia, The Greenville News reported.

“I don’t worry about that. I could go anytime. It doesn’t matter to me,” he said of the hurricane, according to the paper. “At this age, you don’t worry about that kind of thing.”

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