LA GRANGE, Texas (KXAN) — A nursing home in La Grange, where dozens once called home, reopened Monday after being destroyed by Hurricane Harvey back in August.
Around 30 residents moved back to Care Inn, a facility which supports seniors who are in need of extra care. This was the first group of residents to return — they’ll be bringing in all the residents over the next few days; the facility can fit 70.
“It was emotional, the first time you see the residents, because you just love each other,” said Debra Hall, a physical therapist and rehabilitation program manager. Hall has worked with Care Inn for 15 years. Throughout the hallways at Care Inn Monday, residents embraced and exchanged stories with the employees they were reunited with.
Hall noted that Care Inn is one of the first flooded businesses in La Grange to complete such extensive renovations. They’ve had a company working to rebuild the facility from the ground up since the flood.
“There’s new floor, new sheet-rock, new ceilings, they threw all the beds away, they threw everything away that had some contamination from the river,” Hall explained.
The residents evacuated before the storm hit La Grange. “The last resident was a lady who sadly didn’t want to leave her room and she was holding her wheelchair wheels,” Hall remembers.
Employees and volunteers helped take the residents from the Care Inn to places like Marlin, Bastrop, and family homes in the area.
To get them there, staff and volunteers got up in the early hours of the morning and safely evacuated all of their residents before the flood waters covered the area and ran up the foundations of their building.
Eighty-eight-year-old Elgin S. Philip is one of the residents who moved back in to Care Inn Monday.
“They said we got to go somewhere else, we’re gonna flood out. They got me in that bus, it was tough,” Philip recalled, remembering how difficult it was physically to get evacuated from the facility. Since the flooding, he had been staying in Marlin.
He plans on playing dominoes, cards and Bingo now that he’s back at the facility, though he revealed that he’d also like to meet a woman who has a car who can drive him around places.
“They made the move, they were well taken care of, but in the long run I think it was really stressful on [the residents],” Hall said.
She noted that some of their residents got sick and even passed away during the moves. The time after the flood was taxing on most staff too, with no residents to take care of, many employees effectively lost their jobs, then had to be rehired. Care Inn employs around 50 people in town, and many of those people were impacted by the flood waters as well.
“My home flooded, but it’s gonna be rebuilt, but there were a couple of nurses whose homes were just swept away or flooded so high and the elevation and everything that they’ve been deemed that they can’t rebuild,” Hall explained.
“The outpouring of support — just like physical labor and the outpouring of money, all the things people from Austin and a lot of other places — have given us gives us emotional support and I hope and pray that it keeps up,” Hall said. “And not just for La Grange, for the coast and Houston too.”
The La Grange Area Disaster Recovery Team explained that they are currently working on repairing around 70 homes and helping around 100 families who were displaced from mobile home parks. They’re getting some help from the Mennonite Disaster Service who will begin construction on two new homes soon. Already, the disaster recovery team has helped two families move back home.
The team can always use more volunteers or donations, visit www.lgadrt.org for more information.