Veterans Victory House saved from evacuation | News | The Press and Standard

by | September 15, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: September 13, 2017 at 11:32 am

Sandra Ferguson, executive director of Veterans Victory House, was back at work Friday morning well rested.
“I slept much better last night than I did the night before,” Ferguson said.
Her restfulness came with a conference call at 10 p.m. on Sept. 7, a call that let her know that the state was no longer calling for the residents of Veterans Victory House to be evacuated as Hurricane Irma continued to approach Florida.
Ferguson said the buildings of Veterans Victory House were built to withstand a Category Three Hurricane. The building design didn’t factor into the equation, through, as the state called for all nursing facilities in the area to be evacuated.
Before the conference call, Ferguson and her staff had been taking the numerous steps leading up to the evacuation of residents that was scheduled for Friday morning.
Putting together an evacuation of the Veterans Victory House residents, Ferguson explained, “is a major logistical feat, a gargantuan task.”
Ferguson said the plan was to move the residents to either Columbia or Anderson, the final location based on the path of Irma.
“Our evacuation plan is very detailed,” Ferguson said. It is a plan that is constantly evolving. Lessons learned from exercising the evacuation plan as Hurricane Irma approached could lead to more fine-tuning.
“I can’t say enough about our staff,” Ferguson said. Every staff member had a role to play in the evacuation, tasks that need to be accomplished before they, too, could move to the new location with the residents.
When evacuation became a distinct possibility, Ferguson met with the staff to discuss it; the next meeting was with the residents to alert them to the possibility that they might be evacuated.
Next came calls to the families of each resident to explain the situation and give family members the option of coming to Veterans Victory House to sign out their family member to weather the storm with them. Less than 10 residents were signed out.
One of the first things Ferguson and the staff had to assess was transportation: determining how many residents could be transported by bus, how many would need to be transported by vehicles that could handle wheelchair-bound residents and how many would need to be moved to a new location by ambulance.
Also going along would be the residents’ medical records and medication.
To outfit the evacuation site, vehicles were needed to transport food and all the other items to meet the residents’ needs. Even their mattresses would be on the move. It was likely that some of the residents would be sleeping on the floor.
The relocation to a new site for the duration of the evacuation, Ferguson said, “is a glorified camping trip.”

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