About 275 nursing home patients from the Gulf Coast spent two days in Corsicana waiting for Hurricane Gustav to pass.

The patients, all of whom are from nursing homes affiliated with Heritage Oaks in Corsicana, were evacuated from harm’s way and were cared for in several locations in the city, said Jim Acker of Heritage Oaks.

The residents were cared for in facilities at Heritage Oaks, Westhill Church of Christ, available space at Navarro Regional Hospital and at the Navarro College Special Events Center. Nursing home staff, both local and from the evacuated areas, were assisted by numerous local volunteers, Acker said.

State officials had ordered the early evacuation of “special needs” residents from the coast far ahead of the projected landfall of the storm. Heritage Oaks had an agreement in place to provide for the temporary placement of the patients locally.

“We had the entire athletic department ... all the teams ... helping us at the college,” Acker said. Students from the college’s nursing program also provided assistance. He also praised local volunteers from churches, the hospital and fire department and EMS personnel. The volunteers helped load and unload the busses transporting the residents, and helped with meals, cots, and keeping some of the residents company during their stay.

“They arrived about 5:30 on Sunday morning, and we covered the gym floor and went to work,” said Roark Montgomery, Navarro’s athletic director. “It was a holiday weekend, but we had plenty of volunteer help to assist them.”

Corsicana police also assisted several bus caravans through the city Tuesday as evacuees housed elsewhere in the state began the trip back to the gulf.

“This week was a good exercise for us in preparing for major evacuations,” said Eric Meyers Jr., county emergency operations director. Corsicana was prepared to house up to 650 general evacuees from the city of La Porte through a statewide agreement. That evacuation didn’t take place during Hurricane Gustav, but served as a “warmup” for more storms now active in the Gulf area.

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Bob Belcher may be reached via e-mail at belcher@corsicanadailysun.com

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