Paul Kelley, VP of Operations for the Arbor Company, walks us through the steps that Arbor communities take to keep our residents safe in case of hurricanes or other natural disasters.
Join Paul and host Melissa Lee for this episode of Senior Living LIVE as they also discuss ways for seniors to prepare for a serious storm and stay safe.
- Hello everyone and welcome into Senior Living Life My name is Melissa as always I hope you are having a fantastic day today and we appreciate you watching. Now, we have been checking in with Arbor communities, staff, and residents, all in an effort to help you get to know some of the people behind the scenes that help make your Senior Living experience the absolute best that it can be. Today I wanna introduce you to someone very special his name is Paul Kelly, the Vice President of Operations at the Arbor Company. Hi there how are you?
- Hello Melissa I'm doing well, how are you today?
- I'm doing great it is good to see you and on a day that we are doing this interview we happen to have another tropical storm moving through where we both live in Atlanta, but through the south and it is just that time of year. And so we're gonna talk a little bit about hurricane, natural disaster preparation when it comes to Arbor communities. But first Paul, we wanna know a little bit about you tell us about yourself and how long you've been with the Arbor company.
- Great I've been with Arbor company six and a half years now as vice president of operations and really my main focus here is to get out and support the communities, I travel frequently. Most of my communities are in the state of Florida and some in Texas and some in Georgia, but I'm on the road most of the time, I do have an office here in Atlanta, but it sits empty most of the time I'm out in the community. So that's my passion and that's what I enjoy doing and that's what I do for Arbor.
- Yeah and you do it well, and I can attest to that. Yes, he is hardly ever in the office having shared some space with you not too long ago, but that just means you're a busy guy. And you, as you said in order to do what you do, you kinda have to be on the ground doing it. And so as we alluded to, we are in the middle of hurricane season which runs June through September, sometimes even longer at Arbor has quite a few communities near the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts. How do you ensure that everyone stays prepared?
- Well, it's really quite an extensive process that we have here at Arbor. We start sometimes, mid March to early April, getting all of the communities that are in that path together, kinda mapping out for them. What is our plan? What is our plan to shelter in place? What is our plan to evacuate if we need to, and we really take it to a very granular level. What does each resident need to do to get prepared for this? How do we communicate with families? What types of supplies do we need, all the way up to having food, water, emergency supplies on hand if we're to shelter in place and then all the way to the other extreme, having buses lined up, hotels lined up for an evacuation, should that need arise.
- Yeah, that is very extensive, but you could imagine it, it has to be with the people that you have there, the residents who you want to be safe and the staff as well. Now, do you have different plans when it comes to categories of storms? And we're talking specifically for hurricanes here, you have a category one or cat five. And also as an aside to that too, part of this question, we had a big winter storm in Texas of all places this past winter, how do you handle that situation?
- Really, the nuts and bolts of the plans Melissa are really the same. It's training the staff on what to do for any type of emergency, making sure we have the supplies, making sure we have everything we need and making sure we're nimble enough to pivot because as you know, storms don't always follow the same path. What could be a category one on Monday could be a category five by Wednesday or Thursday. So I think the keys are planning ahead, training everybody really well, making sure we have what we need and then being nimble enough to pivot as the storm changes its course. For the snow storms that we had in Texas this year it was unexpected. I mean, nobody has a huge ice storm to the point in a place like Texas where, we had problems and, we did have some building damages and we had, pipes break and things like that. But we had plans in place how to keep our residents safe, how to keep them warm. We partner with several national vendors that help with the recovery efforts, getting the building fixed again if it gets damaged, it's a very complex comprehensive plan. And actually I head up kind of the emergency storm management for Arbor. So I'm the one that kind of looks at the plans each year, kinda revises them and then rolls out that training. And then really it's up to the executive directors and the teams in the communities to make sure that they're ready.
- Speaking of all that you talked to your staff members, but how do you ensure that all the residents have a complete understanding of the preparedness, the process to prevent confusion when the time actually comes.
- And this as you can imagine, we have a variety of types of residents in our communities, our independent living communities. We can certainly tell residents, here's your plan, pack a bag they can do that all by themselves. But then we have, more frail assisted living in memory care residents that really aren't gonna be able to prepare for the storm by themselves we rely on families to help them and oftentimes we rely on our own staff to help them. For those frail residents they are guided, kinda hand over hand shoulder to shoulder by our staff. We make sure they're well taken care of, we make sure they're evacuated if that's what the family chooses. If they shelter in place we attend to them just as we would on any other day that we provide care.
- Gotcha now we have viewers and we're here to cater to anybody who has, who is a senior, whether they live in Arbor community, a senior living community or if they live at home. So on that end Paul, if somebody is watching, they don't live in Arbor community or in a community in general they live by themselves. What advice would you give somebody? Or what suggestions can you offer in terms of action and creating a hurricane preparedness kit?
- Sure well I think, what you said that's most important is have a plan. Don't wait until the last minute by the time you hear about the storm coming on the news, everybody's gonna be out buying extra supplies and getting gas in the car and trying to get somewhere else. So have a plan, keep a small bag packed, make sure you have one to two weeks of extra prescription medications to take with you. Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and extra battery packs for your cell phone. Make sure that you communicate well. I would say if it's a smaller storm and you're gonna shelter in place, make sure you don't shelter alone, invite that neighbor over or that family member to join with you so that you have the support of someone else. And I think for a lot of folks that are living in that area that are not in a senior living, where we would help you with this, communicate with your friends, let your family and friends know where you are, keep them up to date because as soon as somebody can't reach you, they're gonna get worried. And if you stay in good communication with them, things usually go much better. But the key is plan ahead, have that bag ready, have those batteries ready. The minute you hear that you need to maybe evacuate your town because that's, what's being recommended, put stuff in the car and go, don't wait till the last minute and then you'll be sitting in those miles and miles of traffic backups that we see on the news so frequently.
- Absolutely, great, great tips for seniors and everyone of all ages that everybody can really use there. We've seen a lot of snow storms, we've seen tropical storms we've seen tornadoes, we've really seen it all. Can you share with us Paul, some examples of how all that training and preparation really paid off?
- Sure, I would say, a couple of things few years ago, we had hurricane Irma in South Florida and we have several communities on the Southern tip of Florida on both of the coasts and the storm originally was coming up the Eastern side of the coast, near our community in Pompano. And we also were concerned it may affect as far north, as Amelia Island community. And then, at the last minute, the storm pivoted and hit the west coast of Florida towards the Gulf. So typically when we are aware of a storm that's coming that is predicted to be bad. I usually head down into the storm into the market and there's a few other team members from Arbor that go with me and we're there fluid to pivot and support the communities as needed. And then we have a command center that gets set up here in the Arbor office, where we have team members from our Atlanta office, helping us with communication. Keeping families communicated is very important, but I think the success we have during hurricane Irma was we had to evacuate two communities, our Fort Myers community and our Naples community. And we actually had to evacuate our Naples community twice during that storm. And, the success is that we have the residents all safe and accounted for, and you can imagine relocating two communities, north of a hundred residents each was a huge challenge, but the teams did it well and they did it safely. And our residents fared very well and we had minimal damage to the communities based on the preparations that we made at the building. So overall it was a really good outcome and we felt very positive about it.
- Yeah and I'm just so glad you are taking the time to explain this because this is one of those things that when people are looking at singer livings in particular, it could be the son or the daughter that's looking for a place for mom and dad. These are things you don't think about until it's actually happening. It's like, what does the community have in place? We'll just know if you're watching Paul and his great team, they have those plans in place. And so these are things that we have taken care of for you, so that you do not have to worry about it when the time comes.
- And, as we are in hurricane season, right now, we monitor the storms. Several of us have the hurricane trackers on our iPhones and we get the alerts and we monitor them. And as soon as we see one is potentially coming in the path of our community, we're on the road getting into the market ahead of the storm to provide that support.
- That is fantastic, well Paul we certainly appreciate everything that you do on that end, and we appreciate you taking the time to join us on the show today.
- My pleasure.
- Thank you, well if you enjoyed this interview with Paul, all you have to do is go over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. There you can find our videos all about Senior Living 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, we appreciate you tuning in and watching Senior Living Live have a great day everybody.