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Good Samaritan Colorado facility evacuates due to wildfire concerns

Sioux Falls HQ plays critical role
Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:41 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Good Samaritan residents at one of its senior living facilities in Colorado are safe thanks to a successful wildfire evacuation Thursday. The organization’s headquarters in Sioux Falls played a big role in the effort, one that’s even more difficult to execute during a pandemic.

“The smoke had come into the valley and it was so dark that it actually looked like it was in the middle of the night,” says Julie Lee, Good Samaritan Society Estes Park Village Administrator.

It was a busy afternoon Thursday. That’s when the Estes Park Village campus in Estes Park, Colorado started to evacuate.

“I was in communication with the law enforcement in town and they felt it would be necessary for us to start evacuating our residents, just because of our dynamic situation and our resident clientele population,” Lee says.

There are two wildfires they’re especially concerned about, the East Troublesome Fire and the Cameron Peak Fire. More than 100 independent and assisted living residents live at Estes Park Village. Some had already left on their own in the days prior and many had other places to stay, like with family. 46 residents were evacuated to three other Good Samaritan facilities about 40 miles away. Extra precautions were taken due to the pandemic.

“We really had to watch the social distancing, make sure everybody had PPE, lot of hand sanitizing,” Lee explains.

The Good Samaritan Society National Campus in Sioux Falls played a crucial role in the evacuation process.

“They updated our website, they made sure there was a press release out, they started making phone calls to our resident families, to our residents, that hotline was available to residents who maybe had evacuated on their own, to call in and get updates,” Lee says.

President & CEO of Good Samaritan Society Randy Bury adds, “Sanford Health has a very deep emergency management department, individuals who have been trained, it’s what their career is all about.”

The hope is that residents will be back at Estes Park Village sometime early next week.

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