In September 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through the state of Florida, killing 75 people and leaving billions of dollars in damage behind it.
Although devastating, many lessons were learned from Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. One such lesson stresses the importance of having an evacuation plan in place long before the storm hits.
During Irma, 5.6 million people – more than one-quarter of Florida’s population- were ordered to evacuate. For families with senior loved ones, it’s vitally important they have a Plan B for these situations.
At Pacifica Senior Living Ocala, a community devoted exclusively to the care of seniors, the staff offers a perfect Plan B for temporary stays.
“Evacuation to a public shelter is often not the best option for loved ones,” cautions Tara Tosh, Pacifica Senior Living Ocala’s Regional Marketing Director. “They’re bound to get scared and confused. That only adds more stress to an already stressful situation for them and their families.
“Instead, caregivers can bring their loved ones to our community, where they’ll be with people they’ve had a chance to meet. They’ll be safe and well cared for in a cozy environment while their family members go to shelters or elsewhere.”
In Case of Emergency
Florida’s hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but a caregiver and senior can initiate a Plan B at Pacifica Senior Living Ocala at any time. All they have to do is tour the community and provide the staff with the loved one’s key infor4mation, including their advanced directives, medication lists and emergency contacts. A plan is then finalized for the loved one to be brought to the community during and emergency.
“In the case of a hurricane, there’s normally about a three-day advance notice,” observes Tara.
“People who have a Plan B don’t have to worry. If they see that something is brewing in the Atlantic, they can bring their loved one to stay with us for a while. They’ll know their loved one is safe and comfortable during the storm and its aftermath.”
“Plan B works for other types of emergencies as well, such as car accidents or illnesses. IF the caregiver is suddenly unable to be there for their loved one, the plan can be initiated by a family member or the police. Then, the loved one will be brought to our community immediately.”
Preparing for emergencies is an everyday job for Margaret”, director if a local emergency management company. Her department offers advice to people on how to be ready for disasters such as hurricanes. One of the first things they recommend is that every family develops a “family plan” in the event of an evacuation becomes necessary.
“The family plan should cover all the bases, including where they’ll evacuate to and the steps needed to take care of all family members and pets,” she explains.
Plans don’t have to be formal or even written down, just fully understood by all members of the family. Margaret notes there are online tools to help families create a plan, including those on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at www.fema.gov.
When a disaster like Hurricane Irma occurs, Pacifica Senior Living Ocala is ready. It has its own coordinated plan to care for its residents on site during the emergency. The plan also has provisions for the safe and secure evacuation of staff and residents if ordered.
“If a hurricane should hit, we have a generator that will light up the entire building and powers the air conditioning units. We also have meals for residents and family members for five days as well as a fully functioning kitchen”, reports Tara.
“We hope that we don’t need to evacuate, but in the event we do, we bring the residents to a safe community out of the path of the storm. We take care of transportation, food and all other essentials family members worry about.”
Tara encourages all families with senior loved ones to come to Pacifica Senior Living Ocala, take a tour and speak with the staff.
“It’s simple for families to get a Plan B started, just check us out and drop off their loved one’s information,” she stresses. “Then, at least, they’ll have a plan in place should they need it.”
“I tell people: Don’t wait until the hurricane winds and rains are hitting. Drop off your family member’s paperwork and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Pacifica Senior Living Ocala
11311 SW 95th Circle
Ocala FL 34481