After the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey across the Texas Coast and landfall of Hurricane Irma in Florida, residents and team members at Mirador – the area’s only nonprofit Life Plan Community – are reflecting on the recent successful evacuation of the senior living community. By having an emergency plan ready in advance, Mirador was able to evacuate the entire community to its sister community Querencia in Austin and a nearby hotel well before Hurricane Harvey’s arrival. As the storm made its approach, Mirador’s quick response ensured that residents and associates were safe in Austin. For residents and their families, the smooth evacuation and continuous communication provided immense peace of mind.
“As soon as we knew the time frame and path for Harvey we began enacting our emergency procedures to evacuate our campus,” said Deborah Nugent, executive director at Mirador. “We immediately contacted our residents and their families and began the process of evacuation. With 123 residents in our community, this process involved a number of moving parts that included acquiring transportation for everyone, as well preparations for loading and transferring residents’ supplies and personal belongings for arrival at their designated locations.”
Following the evacuation, independent living residents stayed at The Omni Barton Creek hotel and assisted living and health care residents stayed at Mirador’s sister community, Querencia at Barton Creek. This enabled the community to continue meeting the individualized needs of residents in all levels of living. In preparation for the journey, team members loaded a trailer filled with supplies and equipment to supplement the health care team at Querencia – an effort that facilitated a smooth transition for residents and staff.
“The handling of the evacuation exceeded my expectations and provided me with total relief,” said Harold Onwiler, resident of Mirador. “As you can imagine, anticipation of the storm comes with a sense of stress and anxiety, but Mirador handled everything for us. There was nothing that we needed to do except gather our belongings and get on a bus. Even better was arriving at The Omni Barton Creek and finding rooms ready for us. We didn’t even have to check in! It was a comfort to not have to worry at all about something that would have otherwise been overwhelming and stressful.”
“I’m incredibly thankful for all of the efforts and considerations made to ensure our well-being,” said Sally Rausch, resident of Mirador. “Having been through hurricanes before, it was wonderful not to have to worry or plan. Even more important was that my family knew I was okay and didn’t need to be concerned. My granddaughter is a nurse in Corpus Christi and she was able to focus her full attention on her patients because she knew I was out of harm’s way. Our comforts were a priority, down to the smallest detail, and it was truly amazing how Mirador was able to handle the situation.”
Nugent asserts that, throughout the entire process, communication was vital to their success. The community’s priorities were to act in a timely fashion, ensure the safety of residents and keep in contact with residents’ families as much as possible. Once residents and associates were settled in their destinations, the community set up an onsite Mirador Information Center to provide updates for residents, snacks and a gathering spot. At the same time, Seniority, Inc., the management company for Mirador, conducted regular conference calls for residents and families, as well as separate conference calls for associates, to communicate updates and answer questions. After the storm passed and it was safe to return to Corpus Christi, the Mirador team repeated the process in reverse, and everyone made the trip home after four days spent safely in Austin.
“At Mirador, service and excellent care are our top priorities, and that will always stay consistent despite the weather or our physical location,” said Nugent. “By having a plan and knowing how to properly execute it, you can save lives. It is our hope that by sharing our Hurricane Harvey story, we can inspire others to be proactive and plan for any future hurricanes or disasters that face the greater community. It is critical to ensure proper plans are in place as storms like Irma and Jose continue to develop in the Atlantic throughout hurricane season.”
“If we ever find ourselves staring down the eye of a storm like Harvey again I wouldn’t hesitate to evacuate, especially knowing that it can and will be executed effectively by Mirador,” said Onwiler. “For me personally, it was impressive that the same level of care and hospitality that we experience in the community continued while we were away. It felt like home because we were surrounded by friends and familiar faces, and there wasn’t anything to worry about. We were safe and supported and that meant everything. Even the return trip was a celebration filled with cheer and happiness, and thankfully our home was waiting for us almost as if we never left.”