The pictures and videos have gone viral. They depict people from all walks of life looking shell-shocked, moving through waist deep water in streets, standing in homes that are left in complete destruction, and seniors in nursing homes sitting in chairs among that same waist deep water that is more than just from the storm. Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the surrounding regions with historic flooding and often times these floods will not just bring dirt and garbage in from outside into homes, but sewage and other harmful materials as well.
Many seniors who require assistance, either provided by a home care aide or in some other facility, often have a difficult time with mobility and, therefore, extreme challenges in evacuating or even getting access to adequate support services in the wake of these emergencies.
Far too often, other seniors are left struggling to help their peers. According to CBS Evening News’ article, Elderly are among the most vulnerable during Harvey, written by Omar Villafranca:
“Other stranded residents took care of a sick 95-year-old neighbor while waiting for help.
“We been out here since 7 o’clock,” Jervasia Onezina said in a video interview. “I haven’t eaten and he hasn’t eaten, he’s a diabetic, so they gave him the last crackers, they gave him the last four. I haven’t eaten all day and I take medication along with him, and I’m sure other people out here have medication problems as well.”
As the rescuers continue their work, folks from the photo that went viral decided to take their own picture showing they are safely riding out the rest of the storm.”
Too often, facilities and individuals alike become complacent. They might have a generator and assume, even if the power goes out for several days, that they will have electricity and everything will be okay. They may even assume, since they are at a higher elevation than other areas in the city, that they are not prone to flooding.
When historic flood waters decimate and overwhelm a region like Houston, where can the generator sit? They will be inundated with water and unable to operate.
It’s important that anyone relying on home care support pay attention to forecasts, evacuation orders, and be aware that help could be several days away, at best, during these crises. It’s a lesson that Harvey and Irma have reminded the country about, and unfortunately it comes at the cost of lives that didn’t need to be lost.
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