assisted living community in East Northport was evacuated on Sunday after Hurricane Irene caused a tree to fall on a power line, leaving the occupants without electricity and phone service.
The residents were evacuated to , a gospel Christian fellowship that was formerly the site of the East Northport Gospel Church, at around 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Birchwood Suites Administrator Glenn Rappaport chose to evacuate his clients after he surveyed damage to the vicinity and conferred with the Department of Health, the Fire Department and LIPA. Moving to a designated safe zone was in the residents' best interest, Rappaport indicated.
Before the evacuation, Birchwood was running on their own generators, but this power source was blown out by high winds and rain. They were given an extra by Choice Medical Transport of Islandia, which has since been invaluable to Birchwood in more ways than one.
Barry Goodman, operating manager of Choice Medical Transport, said that he began calling nursing homes and assisted living communities to volunteer his company’s services on Friday.
Shortly after he provided a generator and returned home to Coram, Goodman said that Rappaport reached out to him about moving the residents to The Refuge.
It took about four hours and several trips to move the 70 residents, their mattresses, and the staff, with the help of Charlie’s Towing Service of Islip Terrace, and his driver, Margon, Goodman said.
“We also moved the medical carts and the medicine,” Goodman added.
The residents had been prepared for the eventuality of a move, and although Rappaport said that the elderly residents are generally scared of change, they adjusted well once they arrived. To make sure that everything went smoothly, he's stayed with the residents since Saturday.
Rappaport said that he's been in constant contact with LIPA, and said that they hope to have the power restored in one to four days; in the meantime, the residents were relocated to a larger facility--the John Jay Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank. Goodman once again orchestrated the move.
Goodman, Choice Medical Transport owner Wayne Miller, and their crew have helped to evacuate hundreds of nursing home residents free-of-charge since Friday. Now, the job of bringing them all back lies ahead.
“It’s not over yet,” said Goodman.
Meanwhile, the residents -- safely ensconced at John Jay Foley Skilled Nursing Facility -- are literally enjoying a home-cooked dinner.
Birchwood’s head chef will be preparing all the residents’ meals and they will be cared for by the Birchwood staff during their sojourn at the Skilled Nursing Facility.