SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 8, 2013

Sewer backup forces evacuation

Danvers: Officials don't know when 94 nursing home residents can return

Fire and safety officials can’t say when Twin Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center at 93 Locust St. will reopen after a sewer backup caused the evacuation of all 94 residents on Sunday.

In all, 93 residents, some of whom were elderly and frail, including some with tracheostomy or feeding tubes, were transported safely by Lyons and LifeLine ambulance services to seven facilities in Danvers, Andover, North Andover, Reading and Wakefield, fire Chief Kevin Farrell said. One resident of the facility was driven by a family member.

“In the 27 years I’ve been involved in public safety, I have never been involved in the evacuation of a nursing home,” Farrell said.

“Everyone responded and were appropriate and timely,” said Gary DiPietro, the facility’s administrator for seven years. “I can’t say enough for the collaborative effort that happened yesterday.” He praised the fire chief’s response as “fantastic.”

DiPietro could not give a time frame as to when the facility might be open again as officials investigate what happened.

Yesterday morning, the facility, which is owned and operated by Kennett Square, Pa.-based Genesis HealthCare, was a hub of activity, with two Lynch Construction vehicles, a backhoe and five Action Emergency trucks jamming the facility’s parking lot. A ServiceMaster employee was inside cleaning surfaces in a hallway.

Just before noon, according to police, nursing home officials notified the town that there was water on the first floor of the facility. Residents from that floor were brought upstairs while the facility tried to deal with the problem in-house. When the severity of the problem became apparent, DiPietro summoned help from the town and from his corporate office.

All along, the safety of residents was paramount, DiPietro said.

“Their well-being was our priority,” he said.

The evacuation began later that afternoon and was completed by 8 p.m.

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