Hurricane Ike causes nursing home evacuations, power outages in Texas

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Hurricane Ike causes nursing home evacuations, power outages in Texas
Hurricane Ike causes nursing home evacuations, power outages in Texas
Evacuated nursing home residents from Galveston, Beaumont and Houston, TX, have been wondering when they will go home after Hurricane Ike caused massive damage in and around the coastal areas of the state.

Like Hurricane Rita three years ago, Ike cut a swath of devastation across the Lone Star State, leaving floods, property damage and chaos in its wake. But unlike Rita, nursing homes were prepared for this storm, one nursing home association said.

"I think the evacuation went a lot smoother this time than it did during Rita," George Linial, president of the Texas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, told McKnight's. "But it's still been rough because they've had a lot of power outages and a lot of them are relying on generators," he added.

Many of the coastal nursing home residents evacuated further inland to places like Austin and San Antonio, but even those moves provided little respite from the hurricane.

"Even people who evacuated inland lost power," Linial said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared public health emergencies in Texas and Louisiana to ensure that individuals enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid continue to receive their health care items and services.

Because so many lines of communication were cut during the storm, much of the extent of the destruction is still unknown. Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas has warned residents of her town to stay away for the time being because the damage is too great.

So far, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has used the National Housing Locator System to locate more than 250,000 units to be used as temporary housing for Houston area residents displaced by Ike. But at least one nursing home member facility of TAHSA plans to head back to its suburban Houston city of Baytown on Wednesday, Linial said.