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Smooth sailing during superstorm Sandy

Created date

December 25th, 2012

Bucks County, Pa., was hit hard by tropical superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29. The area sustained extensive power outages, some lasting for nearly a week; many downed trees; and winds as high as 76 mph in Bensalem and more than 80 mph in Allentown. But at Ann s Choice, Erickson Living s community in Bucks County, life went on as usual. Even though the power never went out at Ann s Choice, the backup generators were at the ready to keep things running smoothly throughout the community buildings. Coincidentally, the community had done a planned eight-hour power outage drill just a week before the storm, so residents felt confident they knew what to do and that we had plenty of resources to carry out services, says Associate Executive Director John Mann. Those resources include lots of hands on deck.

Hurricane heroes

Ann s Choice has a staff of more than 900 people to serve its 2,000 residents; it s staffed 24/7. On Monday night, some 40 staff, including those whose homes were without power or whose basements had water, stayed over or made arrangements for their children and then returned to campus to ensure that every service Ann s Choice provides would continue. Staff slept in the community s guest suites, on cots in its meeting rooms, or at the Holiday Inn across the street. We called them our hurricane heroes, Mann says, and we had a support program for those with no power at home. They could shower at Ann s Choice, enjoy hot meals, and take hot food home to their families. Even as businesses and government offices across the county closed their doors, the Ann s Choice on-site medical center, pharmacy, wellness center, restaurants, and other services kept regular hours. During Monday night s extreme high winds, Ann s Choice staff closed the community s glass-enclosed all-season pool. But when the wind died down and we opened it in the morning, says Mann, by 6 a.m., people were swimming. Residents followed Sandy s progress after it came ashore in New Jersey. As the storm moved toward Pennsylvania, they expressed concern to Mann that its destruction would be hard for many people. When he offered them a reassuring word, they told him their concern was for people who lived someplace besides Ann s Choice. They felt safe knowing an army of staff members stood ready to handle anything that might happen on campus.

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