Flooding forces more than 100 Bloomington nursing home residents to evacuate to Bedford

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Administrators at two Indiana nursing homes are thanking the dozens of people who joined the effort to evacuate more than 100 residents during Bloomington’s severe flooding that started Friday night.

Warren McCreery, administrator at Bloomington’s Garden Villa, responded to an emergency call at the facility when flood water started rushing in through the front and back doors. He arrived to find a “river” of water starting to overtake several parts of the building.

“I knew at that point I had a bigger problem on my hands than just water coming through a door,” McCreery said.

A fast check of the building made it clear that all 103 residents would have to leave.

“I had to get them safe,” he said. “I just went ahead and called the emergency plan into place and asked that we start the evacuations.”

What followed was a seven-hour flurry of activity that involved his entire staff, as well as staff members at Garden Villa’s Bedford facility, firefighters and other public safety officials, plus members of the public who volunteered to help.

“I’ve never had so much support in my life, so I thank God for that every day,” McCreery said.

McCreery said individuals and organizations woodwork to offer hands and vehicles to help transport the residents out of the flooded facility.

“Every facility in this town pitched in bus drivers and their buses,” he said. “We had the school system here, we had everybody, facilities, you had people with trucks and trailers. We had a horse trailer here, carrying stuff.”

One by one, residents were walked, carried and wheeled out to vans, buses, trucks and ambulances outside.

“Oh, I was on a school bus that didn’t have enough room for my long legs,” one resident said laughing.  

On the other end of the evacuation effort, Bedford’s Garden Villa administrator Christy Fougerousse coordinated efforts to transfer all the residents to the Bedford facility.  

“We always plan for it, we get educated on disaster preparedness,” Fougerousse said. “You never think it’s going to happen, especially 100% evacuation.”

Fougerousse said the Bedford facility was at roughly half capacity at the time of the evacuation, so there was just enough space to take all 103 residents in. In total, the evacuation and emergency transfer took roughly seven hours with no injuries reported.

“It went so smooth,” she said. “I didn’t think it could be that easy, but everybody just did what they needed to do.”

By Wednesday morning, residents from the Bloomington home were settling into their rooms in Bedford. Administrators at both facilities say the residents and their families have taken the sudden move in stride.

“We do have residents that have memory impairment,”  Fougerousse said. “And they may ask questions or not understand why they’re here. We can explain it to them; nobody’s been upset.”

McCreery and Fougerousse both say the effort could not have been possible without phenomenal cooperation and volunteerism from the community.

“It’s warming to my heart to know there’s still good people out there,” McCreery said. “Those are those miracles we’re always told but we never see, and we were able to see it.”

At the same time, McCreery said it has been difficult to witness the damage done to the Bloomington facility. Damage assessments are still underway, and it could be several months until the building is ready to welcome residents back again.

“I’ve been here for 13 years, and this is me,” he said. “To see it ruined, it hurts.”

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