During Hurricane Sandy, at least 28 senior living facilities in the Greater New York City area were severely flooded, leaving residents in buildings without power, water, and heat.
New York, New York (PRWEB) June 26, 2013
Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods. Physical limitations, medication requirements, and mental ailments complicate the preparation for and response to major storms.
On the heels of Hurricane Sandy and the devastating impact it had on seniors in New York City, it is important for seniors to consider the risk of natural disasters when evaluating a nursing home or assisted living facility. An ElderBranch analysis found that there are 14 nursing homes and 15 senior living facilities in the Greater New York City area located within areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designates as “areas of high flood risk.”
Hurricane Sandy’s Impact on New York City Senior Living
The risk posed to seniors from natural disasters was particularly evident during Hurricane Sandy, when at least 28 senior living facilities in the Greater New York City area were severely flooded, leaving residents in buildings without power, water, and heat. In most cases, back-up generators failed or were completely absent.
As a result, over 4,000 nursing home residents and 1,500 senior living residents had to be evacuated by the National Guard, Fire Department, and ambulance crews in the days following the storm.
According to research presented at last November’s Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting, evacuations during hurricanes and flooding expose residents, particularly those with dementia, to significant risks and result in a large increase in mortality within 90 days of evacuation. For this reason, sheltering in place is the preferred method for seniors to get through a storm, so long as one’s home can avoid significant flood damage.
FEMA’s Newly Released Work Maps Highlight Flood Risk
On June 9th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its preliminary work maps showing the coastal flood hazard data for New York City. This data is designed to help communities plan for and reduce the risks from flooding.
ElderBranch cross-referenced FEMA’s work maps with its database of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Greater New York City area. Of the 178 nursing homes and 75 senior living facilities in New York, Kings, Richmond, Queens, and Hudson (NJ) Counties, ElderBranch found 14 nursing homes and 15 senior living facilities that are located in what FEMA calls “Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs),” or floodplains. These areas are considered to be at high risk of flooding, with a 26% chance of inundation over a 30-year period. As such, homes in these areas must carry flood insurance and comply with federally prescribed floodplain management standards.
Tips for Seniors Living in Areas of High Flood Risk
A silver lining from Hurricane Sandy is that nursing homes and senior living communities are now much more aware of the serious risks posed by flooding. Homes throughout the Greater New York City area have spent a substantial amount of time and money over the last seven months to try to ensure that they will be better prepared in the event of another major storm.
While homes in the New York City area are more aware of the risks from flooding, there are still questions seniors should ask when considering a facility that is at higher-risk of a flood. Knowing the risks and planning ahead can help keep seniors safe this hurricane season.
ElderBranch is an online information portal that helps people find and evaluate long-term care providers. ElderBranch’s mission is to support users in making the best decision possible for themselves and their loved ones.