A natural disaster, storm, or emergency can be a scary time for everyone involved. Whether you yourself are living through it, or have loved ones in a storm’s path, being a part of a hurricane is certainly unsettling. Our hearts and support are with all those who endured the recent Hurricane Ian, which recently hit the southern part of Florida. Pacifica Senior Living has several communities in the state of Florida, and as we watched the projected storm path and weather warnings leading up to the hurricane, it became apparent that some of our residents - specifically those in our Fort Myers community - would have to be moved.
A mandatory evacuation of Pacifica Senior Living Fort Myers to one of our sister communities, the Meridian at Lantana, just outside Palm Beach was declared. While this process of moving all our residents from one community to another was no small feat, staff and team members from across the state quickly stepped up to lend a hand.
On September 27th, buses, vans and staff members from our other Pacifica communities drove to Fort Myers to help in the evacuation process, ensuring everyone was transported in a safe but timely manner. Despite the weather and increasingly bad conditions, the Fort Myers team and the patient and compassionate bus drivers got everyone safely loaded and transported through the storm.
The wonderful and resourceful Angie Taylor, Executive Director of Pacifica Fort Myers, coordinated the evacuation and stayed with her residents at the Meridian at Lantana. Angie was an amazing asset during this uncertain time, and together with many of her staff members from Fort Myers including Joaquina Ochoa, Victoria Bendezu and Ann Marie Saint Hilaire coordinated and facilitated the move.
"Joaquina Ochoa the RSD, Victoria Bendezu Activity Director, Ann Marie Saint Hilaire is a PCA. They worked tirelessly taking care of the residents while at Lantana. They went above and beyond what anyone could ask an employee to do." -Angie Taylor, ED Pacifica Senior Living Fort Myers
Angie showed patience, compassion, and wonderful organizational skills during this time. Not only did she head up her own team of staff, but she oversaw the move, and, in conjunction with the Lantana team, worked together to ensure the comfort and safety of all residents.
“This hurricane has given me the unique experience of learning firsthand what an Executive Director is like… She seem[ed] to have multiplied herself in 1 million ways, always with a smile to everyone who approached her, always reassuring them, making each and everyone feel at home. To sum it up, everyone left satisfied, everyone went to sleep with a smile on their faces. What a lady! …Thanks to this trip which has been quite burdensome, I have had a chance to know an excellent human being, her name is Angie.” Ana A - Assisted Living resident
Without hesitation, Executive Director of the Meridian at Lantana, Mikaela Saunderson, volunteered to receive the residents and prepared her staff and community to take in the evacuated residents from Fort Myers. She and her own team of staff were more than willing to open their doors to the displaced residents of Pacifica Fort Myers, and were ready and waiting for them with food, accommodations and extra staffing to assist during their time of need.
Tampa Garden Senior Living, Wyndham Lakes, and Pacifica Senior Living Sunrise also sent staff to assist and care for residents in Lantana. Regional Directors in the area, Cindy Menker and Courtney Dyer, also stepped up to assist and coordinate staff members and teams, assisting in the continued care of all residents.
This was truly a team effort and everyone came together from across our many Florida communities to help out wherever possible. The willingness to assist in a time of need, and the calm and clear direction given by the Executive Directors that oversaw it, all are a huge part of why this temporary relocation went so well. Ensuring the safety, security and mental wellbeing of our residents was the top priority, and everyone that stepped in to help was part of making sure the residents had the safest possible experience, despite the unnerving event. From communicating with concerned loved ones and family members, to ensuring everyone was comfortable and well fed, our Pacifica teams filled in all the gaps, and worked hand in hand with one another in order to make the best of a temporary situation.
After several days, during which staff remained upbeat, attentive and caring, authorities declared Fort Myers to be safe to return to. Staff members returned to the community to assess any damage and begin the cleanup process. Thankfully, we were very lucky in that there was little to no damage to the Pacifica Fort Myers community. Cleanup staff removed debris, tidied the property, and began preparing for the resident’s return.
On October 4th, the residents of Pacifica Senior Living Fort Myers bid farewell and thank you to their hosts at Lantana, and were able to return home once more. The care, compassion, calmness and clarity with which our team handled this potential crisis - especially Angie, Mikaela, our Regional Directors, and everyone behind the scenes - ensured that this move went smoothly.
We are proud to know that in a time of need, our staff members are ready and willing to step up and help wherever needed. Because of this, and the timely assistance from all, our residents were able to wait out the storm in a secure, comfortable and inviting home. Our hearts go out to anyone less fortunate during this time. We know that many businesses, homes and families suffered losses caused by Hurricane Ian, and we want to extend our helping hand to anyone in need. Those seeking assistance or shelter are encouraged to reach out to us. We are here to help serve and support those in our community.
For more information, visit our community websites, or give us a call.