WINDSOR, Calif. - Today was a most welcome homecoming day for the 55 residents of the beautiful, now fully restored Brookdale Windsor senior assisted-living community.
The seniors, some for the second time, were evacuated on October 26, as the raging out-of-control Kincade Fire took direct aim at the town of Windsor, giving Brookdale very little time to act.
"We went through this in 2017. But, we got very little notice basically, I know 20 minutes, I had 20 minutes time," said Brookdale Windsor Executive Director Wendy Watson.
While some residents spent the time with family or friends, the majority were taken to Santa Rosa, but only for a night when that community was also evacuated.
Then, they were bused to another Brookdale facility far from the smoke and fire to Scotts Valley, 135 miles away, where they've been living for almost a month.
"The team from Windsor did travel on the buses to Scotts Valley. Some came later and they had our staff caring for them in Scotts Valley. So, they know their nurses. They knew their caregivers. I was there. They had familiar faces around the the entire time," said Watson.
The majority of the facility suffered heavy smoke damage and had to be fully sanitized, repaired, repainted and tested.
So, the staff decided a "Brookdale Strong" welcome back party, very much in order.
"I have made good friends here and I feel comfortable here. It's a beautiful place and it's, it's just great. Oh, I'm so glad to here," said resident Marilyn Blansitt.
"We talked about it all the time and said, 'God, we wish we were back there again.' We really did," said resident Jack Tilley.
"We were kind of trapped down there but trying to have a good time, but couldn't wait to get home. We finally got our act together and our buses together and here we are and now we can resume our life again," said resident Allen Miller.
Everyone we met was super grateful.
"I think it's nothing short a miracle that Windsor is still here. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the fire department and first responders who made that happen," said Director Wendy Watson.
So, this is much more than a homecoming. This is home, and they are home for the holidays.