Nursing homes in the Carolinas were racing to secure the safety of their residents Thursday, ahead of Hurricane Florence’s touchdown.
The dangerous storm, labeled as a Category 2 yesterday morning, is expected to dump dozens of inches of rain on the coast, accompanied by winds up to 130 mph and heavy flooding. Wanting to avoid some of the deadly outcomes that nursing facilities faced in Texas and Florida last year, operators have been working all hours to prepare. About 10 of North Carolina’s nursing homes are located in coastal and eastern counties.
Employees at Trinity Grove nursing home, in Wilmington, N.C., were checking its 750-kilowatt generator ahead of the storm. About 100 residents will shelter in the facility, which about two miles off the coast, USA Today reports. “We are as prepared as we can be,” employee Pete Nero told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) called for a mandatory evacuation of nursing homes and other healthcare facilities in the storm’s path. Officials have taken the rare step of evacuating all 32 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities located in the Palmetto State’s coastal region. The residents who were evacuated have an average age of 83, and moving them can pose a risk of death or injury, USA Today noted.
Ted Goins Jr., president of Lutheran Services Carolinas, which has seven facilities, including Trinity Grove, is confident that staying in place will be the right choice for his organization. Along with its massive diesel generator, the home is built on high ground and has food, water and medical supplies to last them a while, the Washington Post reports. “We are taking this completely seriously,” Goins said.
Health and Human Services also declared a public health emergency in Virginia on Wednesday, following North and South Carolina the previous day.