Tampa Bay area nursing home preparing for Hurricane Irma

State mandates emergency plans before storms

Pictures and video from Texas remind us that few people are more vulnerable during a hurricane than elderly nursing home residents.

We spent today talking to busy staff members as they prepare to put emergency plans into place.

The heart-wrenching images shocked millions.

Nursing and assisted living home residents trapped in beds and wheelchairs as water rose in Texas.

The lucky ones were loaded onto rescue boats.

To local senior care facility operators, what happened looked like a complete breakdown.

“For this industry, you typically have pretty organized systems in place,” said Susan White, who is vice president of the company that operates Brentwood Senior Living in St. Petersburg.

She said she couldn’t speculate on why there were problems with evacuating nursing homes in Texas.

Workers at Brentwood Senior Living have been working around the clock preparing for Irma's possible arrival.

“We're prepared with food, water, medications, everything that we need to take care of our residents for the next 7 to 10 days if needed,” said White.

In Florida, emergency plans are mandated by the state.

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They're especially important in Pinellas County, where dozens of nursing homes lie in hurricane evacuation zones.

“With what we do, the business we're in, we have to have this prepped and ready to go,” White said.

Generators have been tested at Brentwood and families are getting regular updates.

Earlier today, staff put wrist bands with vital information on residents, in case they have to be moved to another facility.

Concordia Manor Nursing Home isn't waiting on an official evacuation order. To be on the safe side, they're moving their 39 residents to a sister facility out of harm's way.

Brentwood Senior Living employees hope they don't have to move their 100 residents.

They're on high ground, and the building can withstand a category four hurricane.

“We do have space if folks have seniors who need some help during this time, we're available,” said White. 

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