Water stock photo

When Hurricane Matthew roared into town, Life Care Center of Jacksonville, Florida, had the chance to aid not only the residents as usual, but also associates and their families.


About 50 guests, including staff members and their children and other relatives, stayed overnight at the facility while the hurricane battered the Atlantic coast on Oct. 7-8, 2016.


The center prepared space for families throughout the building, with one mother of twin infants staying in the therapy cottage and fellow associates helping with diaper changes.


Department heads helped out in the kitchen, assisting the dietary department in preparing a large number of grilled cheese sandwiches and sides for supper that night.


“Everybody stayed pretty calm,” said Sal DeCaria, executive director. “We were prepared, and we had our procedures put in place.”


When the storm passed, a lot of families discovered their homes near the beach had flooded, and much of the area was under a boiled-water mandate. The flooding had contaminated the usual supply for drinking water, and local residents had to boil their water or use bottled water.


Decaria and his team donated many of the center’s gallon jugs of water to its associates and their families who were affected by the flooding.


“We had a lot of families who were displaced,” DeCaria said.


One family that received aid was that of Johna Seymour, director of rehab services. Her parents and two aunts, who all lived in St. Augustine Beach, were without clean water.


“They were all on a boiled water alert,” Seymour said. “We were able to give them some of the water, and they were very appreciative.”


Seymour added that her mother shared some of the water with neighbors, so even more people benefitted.


“The hurricane truly showed our staff’s dedication,” said DeCaria.