COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -The governor’s mandatory evacuation order for parts of coastal South Carolina has also meant the relocation of hundreds of assisted living residents. The Harmony Collection at Columbia on Clemson Road is a housing community for seniors needing independent living, assisted living or memory care. Earlier this week, about 70 residents and 22 staff members arrived at the facility by bus from their Charleston location.
It’s something the team has been preparing for over the last several weeks to ensure the people they’re responsible for are safe in case Hurricane Dorian hits the South Carolina coast.
The facility has several locations across the southeast, including a command center in Roanoke, Virginia, which has been helping to coordinate relocation plans for residents living in any of its properties that could be in Dorian’s path. Once Governor Henry McMaster’s mandatory evacuation went into effect Monday afternoon, staff with the assisted living communities were ready to put their plans in motion and had already prepared the residents too.
Sally Hudson is an independent resident at Harmony at West Ashley in Charleston. She said, “We were told we would probably have to evacuate. So, we began to think of what we would need. They did give us a list of what we would need and I got most of the things on the list and had them ready, and we all hastily packed and rode the bus down here.”
The Harmony Collection at Columbia executive director, Leslie Hall, said, “Just take one person – they’ve got medications, toiletry items, clothing, blankets, pillows, towels. There’s so much for one person. So, ahead of time they pack totes with the names of the residents on them and we’ve got the apartment numbers figured out before they get here. So, when they come in they automatically have a direction to go to.”
The agency was able to use its facility buses, and rented additional buses to get everyone to Columbia Monday night. This is the second year in a row that this location has hosted residents and staff from the Charleston location due to a hurricane. Even with past experience, residents and staff members say relocating can be challenging, and especially for our seniors who may have to adjust to having a roommate they’re not used to, or riding on a bus for a long period of time.
“You don’t think and move as well as you used to, and so, a few things I wish I had brought, I forgot, but basically I have the basic things and everyone has been very, very helpful,” Hudson said.
Candy Cure is the executive director of Harmony at West Ashley. She said, “I think families, they feel more securing knowing that mom or dad’s going to be taken care of. I don’t have to worry. I can get my family, take care of my house, whatever I’ve got to do to secure and make sure that I’m safe and taken care of because I know my mom is.”
Staff members say the lane reversals were a big help in getting residents and staff members to Columbia. Again, long bus rides can be challenging for some of the residents, but that they were able to make good timing thanks to the lane reversals.
They’re hoping to have everyone back home in Charleston by Friday.