Bay Area centers take in displaced seniors forced to flee from wildfires

- With thousands of people evacuated from the wildfires in wine country, one nonprofit in San Francisco sent crews to Santa Rosa to bring some elderly residents to safe ground.

AlmaVia of San Francisco, a division of ElderCare Alliance, took in about 20 seniors from Spring Lake Village, all of whom had been sleeping in cots at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and fled their senior center this week with only the clothes on their backs, according to vice president of business and strategy Rosemary Jordan.

As of Thursday, there were about 4,500 people staying in formal shelters, according to the California Office of Emergency Services, and countless more staying with friends, family, hotels and some in their cars. Seniors, of course, are among those displaced, and many organizations from the Oakmont retirement and assisted living center in Concord to the Red Cross, have taken special care for these older folks forced to flee - often times unwillingly - from their homes.

 

Isabel Creager, an author, retired nurse and a veteran of two foreign wars, was forced to flee Santa Rosa. And she didn’t go willingly. “They said you have to leave,” she said. “And I said, ‘I’m not leaving, I like it here.’ Nobody tells me when to leave my own house.” But then she realized everyone had to leave because of the many mandatory evacuations issued across eight counties where 22 wildfires are being fought. “They said, ‘You can’t be stubborn, you better do what they tell you to.’” And since she arrived at AlmaVista near Lake Merced in San Francisco, she said she had a change of heart. She was touched that the staff bought queen-size beds, and bags and bags of clothes and supplies, even new underwear, from Target and Macy’s. “I was glad to come here,” she said, “I met more new people here. I love new people.” Still, she quipped, the circumstances were less than ideal: “Damn fire!” #winecountryfires

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Isabel Creager, an author, retired nurse and a veteran of two foreign wars, was just one of the people who made the trip 90 minutes from her home. And she didn’t go willingly.

“They said you have to leave,” she said. “And I said, ‘I’m not leaving, I like it here.’ Nobody tells me when to leave my own house.”

But then she realized everyone had to leave because of the many mandatory evacuations issued across eight counties where 22 wildfires are being fought. “They said, ‘You can’t be stubborn, you better do what they tell you to.’”

And since she arrived at the center near Lake Merced, she said she had a change of heart.  She was touched that the staff bought queen-size beds, and bags and bags of clothes and supplies, even new underwear, from Target and Macy’s.

“I was glad to come here,” she said, “I met more new people here. I love new people.”

Still, she quipped, the circumstances were less than ideal: “Damn fire!”

 

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