PORT ARTHUR, Texas - Family members said they are unhappy with how their loved ones were evacuated from Lake Arthur Place and the Cypress Glen nursing homes in Port Arthur during Harvey.
Lori Davis said she was in contact with her grandmother’s nurses earlier in the day on Aug. 30, and they told her the nursing home was waiting for the officials to help evacuate the residents.
She explained she started to get worried when she didn’t hear back from the nurses after several hours, especially since her grandmother has high anxiety, dementia and a pace maker.
"They should have had a plan where if they do have something like this happen, what are we going to do then,” said Davis.
She felt helpless because she evacuated to Conroe and had no idea where her 93-year-old grandmother, Lois Brister, was staying.
"How long would you want your grandmother to sit in that kind of situation, she already been terrified by the storm all night, and there’s water on the floor. She’s sitting in her own feces and urine," said Davis.
Eventually, her family members were able to locate her at the Port Arthur Little Theater after she was evacuated from the nursing home by volunteers.
She said her husband's cousin found her waiting in a line to board a helicopter.
Davis said her grandmother had several huge cuts and bruises all over her arms when she went to see her after Harvey.
She said her grandmother also developed a cough and is worried she may have pneumonia.
"It’s horrible to think about it, you know she doesn’t remember a lot of it. She’s 93, so it's very high stress, and I’m sure she’s blocking it just trying not to remember," said Davis.
One of the volunteers helping with the evacuations named Christanne Middleton took a video at the Cypress Glenn nursing home during the evacuation. In the video, there are several people sitting in wheelchairs with their legs in the water.
At one point, you can hear an employee from the nursing home telling the volunteers to leave because they are violating their residents' privacy. The employee also told the volunteers that they are working with the government to help them evacuate residents.
12 News spoke to a volunteer named Eric Lavoie who helped evacuate people from both of the nursing homes.
He said there was about 18 to 20 inches of water inside the Lake Arthur Place.
Lavoie explained many people inside of the building were scared and several nurses were scrambling around looking for patient medication.
He also helped evacuate residents at the Cypress Glen nursing home.
“The smell of feces literally hit me, people in the hallway were struggling to keep the contents of their stomach in themselves,” said Lavoie.
He said several of the residents were sitting in wheelchairs with their feet in the water. He said it was disturbing to see several patients inside who looked like they were severely neglected.
“People were coming out in just diapers and a t-shirt, they were just wet,” said Lavoie.
On Thursday night, Senior Care Centers, which owns the two nursing homes released a statement to 12 News.
Senior Care Centers said it was working with officials to orchestrate a safe evacuation, and stated unknown volunteers forcibly removed their residents. In their statement, they also mentioned their caregivers were physically restrained during the evacuation.
Senior Care Centers explained they were working to locate the evacuated residents and confirm their safety.
See the full statement to 12 News here.
Lavoie said he laughed when he read the statement because the residents inside the nursing home were happy to evacuate.
“When it comes to saving people, you got to do what you got to do,” said Lavoie.
Davis said she is happy her grandmother was able to leave the nursing home safely, thanks to several of the volunteers.
“Thank goodness the rescuers were there, and how dare they try to blame them for going in there and rescuing [the residents] from sitting in there for more hours than they already had,” said Davis.
12 News contacted the Senior Care Centers Friday afternoon. The organization said it will not confirm whether the seniors are accounted for at this time.
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