When the rains began on July 10, we were all warned that this could be a serious situation; for residents throughout our area, the warnings proved to be unfortunately true. Staff at Senior Solutions quickly responded, even working over the following weekend at the Multi-Agency relief efforts spearheaded by the Red Cross and FEMA at the Command Center in Ludlow.
“There were many seniors, in an understandable state of shock, who lost homes, kitchens, driveways, and road access to their homes,” said Thom Simmons, Nutrition & Wellness Director. “Each person’s story was different, but what they shared was a need to have immediate living concerns handled in an efficient but compassionate fashion.”
Senior Solutions processed food-replacement claims for those on 3SquaresVT benefits, a possibility many did not even know existed. In some cases, seniors with unsafe homes were relocated to motels and were supplied with basic appliances such as dorm refrigerators and microwaves. Requests for Meals on Wheels were treated in an expedited fashion, with applicants added to delivery roles the next day. In other cases, seniors needed food for pets or grooming for their mud-covered companions. All were quickly facilitated by staff
“Meals on Wheels drivers were nothing short of heroic,” said Simmons. “We know of instances where meals were delivered using emergency service vehicles, All-Terrain Vehicles, and even bucket-loaders. Within 24 hours of the disaster, virtually all seniors needing meals on wheels were receiving their daily food. Each local meal center responded in an amazingly compassionate and effective way.”
The Windsor meal center depleted their supply of Shelf-Stable meals; the Bellows Falls Area Senior Center drew on an emergency supply of frozen meals they had on hand; The Thompson Center in Woodstock, lacking usable water, transformed their operations using disposable plates and low-water meals; and the Dam Diner in the West River Valley worked with their meal drivers to switch delivery days to make sure that their clients received their meals.
There is an old saying, “Neither rain nor snow, nor gloom of night stops the US Mail.” The recent disaster suggests that this saying is equally appropriate to Senior Solutions and our Meal Centers in making sure our seniors are fed.