Video: Flooded Assisted Care Center “Immediate And Clear Danger”
The Johnson assisted care center under investigation following an evacuation because of flooding has been deemed “an immediate and clear danger to residents” by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, according to a report released by the Office of Long-Term Care on Friday.
The report finds that the Blossom Hill Assisted Care center is “unsuitable for residency because of the history of flooding and residents cannot return.” Other neighbors tell 5NEWS they are happy to see something done about the center. “From everything I can tell, it seems to be a dangerous situation for those people”, neighbor Dianne Tyson said.
The head of Better Home Living, LLC, which operates the center in Johnson, said the company notified the Department of Human Services’ Office of Long Term Care the day of the flood.
“All 10 of our residents were transported to our Bentonville facility safely without incident. We are working closely with the Office of Long Term care to assure that we continue to provide the best possible care for our residents,” the company stated at the time. “We are reviewing our options at this time as of the future of Blossom Hill.”
Christopher Moore lives near the center, and his house also flooded, along with several others in the immediate area.
“Every time it rains, this street turns into a lake,” Moore said. “The water rises and keeps coming up. Having water come into your house is a very hopeless feeling.”
On Friday, the center’s administrator, Angel Floro, told 5NEWS the company is seeking a solution.
“We are trying to look for a better place,” she said.
State investigators inspected the center last week after the flooding and found an average water height of 29 inches, according to a DHS report. Investigators spoke with staff members and neighbors about the flooding.
“The staff member and one of the residents first noticed the water in the carpet but didn’t think much about it because of air conditioning problems in the last few days,” the report states. “As the carpet got wetter, a call was placed to 911.”
Residents climbed into the windows of the center to help out the facility during the flooding, the report states.
All 10 residents were evacuated from the facility by rafts. They are being temporarily housed at the New Adams House facility in Bentonville, while the state decides where they can stay permanently.
Johnson Mayor Buddy Curry said he spoke with DHS officials about this investigation.
He said this isn’t the first time the center has been flooded.
“There’s been a couple of other incidents in 2011, and I think the other, it could`ve been in 2006 that the nursing home has been flooded and evacuated, so they have had three incidents now but I told them we now have a plan,” Curry said.
Amy Webb, Department of Human Services spokeswoman, said surveyors from the department’s Office of Long Term Care interviewed public officials, neighbors and others.
Webb said the facility’s residents were moved to another assisted living center and are safe.
The assisted care center and multiple residences were evacuated after flash flooding swept through parts of Johnson on July 31.
Residents living at Blossom Hill Assisted Care Living Center were evacuated before 4 a.m.
Johnson Fire Chief Tod Witzigman said at the time that residents were taken by bus to the Church of Christ in Johnson for temporary housing.
“They were in whatever they had on. No one brought anything. They were barefooted. They were in their pajamas. They were so frightened,” said Church of Christ Minister, Larry Culbreath.
Washington County Emergency Management brought beds and supplies to the church for the flood victims.
The heavy flood waters were waist deep at the assisted care facility, but that water had mostly receded after sunrise.
Neighbors living on Roxanne Place, near Blossom Hill, said they were also forced out of their homes. Margaret Dudley said when she got out of bed around 4 a.m. the water was already calf-deep.
“It was coming in quick and fast through the garage, front door, back door, window sills,” she said, adding, “It’s totally lost. Everything I own is in the house.”
Tiffany Hughes said she had to climb onto her couch so her neighbors could help her escape out of a window.
“It was like a wave that came in,” said Hughes. “It really washed over like a beach wave.”
Q Katzang said he was at work when he received a “panicked” call from his wife. He said he rushed home to help his wife and young daughter escape the flood waters.
Katzang said by the time he reached Roxanne Place, the water was up to his chest. He said the flood was so strong it lifted and moved his California king-sized bed.
Dudley, Hughes and Katzang all said they do not have flood insurance. They said they’ll stay with friends and/or family in the area while they try to rebuild.
The Blossom Hill Assisted Care swift water rescue was one of three early morning rescues conducted July 31. 5NEWS was on scene as firefighters rescued another man trapped in a car on Main Drive in Johnson. Firefighters were able to pull that man out safely, and he did not sustain any injuries.