Monday, October 7, 2013

Communities Lend Helping Hand to LTC Caregivers Post Hurricane Sandy

This is part of a special blog series this week, highlighting AHCA/NCAL members who are “emergency heroes” – going above and beyond the call of duty in the face of natural and man-made disasters.

Caregivers and staff at Chelsea Senior Living communities in New York and New Jersey are accustomed to caring for residents, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, they were the ones that needed a helping hand.

Hurricane Sandy crashed into the New Jersey coastline early on October 29, 2012, washing away large pieces of the Atlantic City Boardwalk into the sea, and pouring rain up and down the entire East Coast. The East River in New York City overflowed its banks, and flooded much of Lower Manhattan, including seven subway tunnels. Millions were left without power, and many businesses and homes were either heavily water damaged or completely destroyed. 

Causing an estimated 117 fatalities in the U.S. alone, Hurricane Sandy is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, and the costliest next to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Photo by: Business Insider

New York and New Jersey were hit hardest by the storm. At The Chelsea at Toms River in Toms River, NJ, some employees lost their homes and temporarily took shelter in the facility.

One of those staff members was Nathan Williams, Chelsea’s Building Services Director.

“The National Guard had to evacuate my family [during the storm],” said Williams in a December 2012 article. “My wife, three daughters and my dog used a ladder to climb aboard a boat because the house was surrounded by 4 feet of water.”

“We’re in this for the long term,” said Helen Willis, Executive Director of the Chelsea at Toms River, in a November 2012 article. “We will open our doors to our staff as long as they need it and we are collecting furniture and other items for when they do find new places to live.”

In response to staff members’ great losses, Chelsea Senior Living created an employee relief fund. Initially launched with $25,000 in donations from several Chelsea Senior Living executives, the fund aimed to help staff get back on their feet.  
Photos by: Chelsea Senior Living
“It is nearly impossible to put into words the gratitude we feel for all those employees who tirelessly gave of themselves to care for our residents,” said a statement issued by Chelsea Senior Living. “We are truly in awe of the selflessness, sacrifice, hard work and dedication that each of you showed during the disaster.”

One month later, in December 2012, The Chelsea at Toms River became a donation center for everything from clothing to furniture for staff that lost their belongings in the storm. Volunteers and staffers joined forces to organize the items into categories, and the clothing by size.

“We publicized [the donation center] on Facebook and local radio stations,” said Amanda Black, Community Relations Director of the Chelsea. “It just took off from there.”

Another community, The Chelsea at Tinton Falls in Tinton Falls, NJ, housed six community members who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy.

If you know of an emergency hero you’d like to tell us about, please email

1 comment:

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