For Bianca Wilson, wellness nurse at Sunrise at Siegen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, August 13 started off just like any other day. She woke up early and arrived at the senior living community to begin her shift, by greeting residents and team members.
She was aware of the flooding in the neighboring towns of Denham Springs and Central Louisiana, which had started the day before. "I remember hearing that two of my fellow team members at Sunrise lost their homes and cars. I felt such sadness for them. I had them on my mind that Saturday when I got up to go to work - never expecting to be in the same situation just hours later," she says.
Three hours into her shift, Bianca's sister called to tell her that water was beginning to build up on their street. Thirty minutes later, Bianca's entire street was evacuated by order of the local fire department. With Sunrise at Siegen unaffected by the floodwaters, Bianca's sister made her way safely to the community and the two of them thought about what to do next. Before long, they were given the news their entire street was flooded and impassable, as well as the local Walmart, movie theater and homes that stretched for miles.
"Before long, they were given the news their entire street was flooded and impassable."
Bianca admits that, at this point, she was starting to get very nervous, wondering what was going to happen to her home and where she would stay that night. She soon found out that the Sunrise at Siegen department coordinators had made arrangements for all displaced team members to stay the weekend at the community with all provisions, such as meals, taken care of. Although grateful to have Sunrise as her safe haven, the entire experience felt surreal. "I laid down that night and mourned the loss of my home and all of my possessions. All I had was the uniform I had on, and the uniform my sister brought for me," she said.
Amazingly, even after enduring such hardships, Bianca and many other team members directly affected by the floods continued to work and care for their residents at Sunrise, some taking on extra shifts since others were unable to come in. "Some told me that despite losing everything, coming in and serving their residents helped them to maintain a sense of normalcy despite the devastation. I can't say that I'm surprised, so many of our team members consider residents their family and the feeling is mutual," said Ryan Rogers, associate director of Operations.
The Sunrise family steps in
Bianca was one of 34 Sunrise team members who were significantly impacted from the Baton Rouge flooding, losing everything from their homes to cars and other belongings. Sunrise leadership at both Sunrise at Siegen and Sunrise of Baton Rouge and communities and across the country quickly worked to identify team members who needed support and put a plan into action. With housing being the most immediate need, they secured apartments, ensuring everyone that had was in need of housing was taken care of.
Through the Sunrise Good Samaritan Fund, a 501(c)(3) charity created to help team members who are experiencing severe hardship resulting from a catastrophic event in their lives, these team members were able to quickly get assistance so that they could begin to rebuild their lives.
As other Sunrise team members throughout the country heard about the impact of the flooding, many reached out to ask how they could help. "The question to our team members was usually 'what is it that you need?' and the answer was usually 'everything,'" said Ryan.
The Good Samaritan Fund established an Amazon Wish List with all the essentials, such as bedding and kitchenware. So far, nearly 500 items have been fulfilled on the list, totaling nearly $7,000 in goods. Sunrise residents' family members also stepped in to help, with many donating furniture and even a car to help those very individuals who care for their loved ones on a daily basis.
"No one could have foreseen the flooding of East Baton Rouge Parish, and without the aid of Sunrise and every person affiliated with Sunrise [staff, residents, family], I don't know where I would be right now. At a time when a great deal of people had to stay at shelters or hotels or even back in their flooded home, I was given shelter at my Sunrise community and one week later I had an apartment…My home is still down to the studs and I'm not sure when or if I'll be able to go back home, but I thank God for Sunrise who provided me with a home away from home in more ways than one," says Bianca.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living