Trapped in the Towers

By Sheehy, Gail | Newsweek, November 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

Trapped in the Towers


Sheehy, Gail, Newsweek


Byline: Gail Sheehy

Rushing in to save the seniors.

The real test of the army of caregivers for tens of thousands of seniors trapped at home when Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast began the day after the storm ended. Eloise Goldberg, the Visiting Nurse Service

of New York supervisor for the Bronx and half of Long Island, stepped out of her home about 50 miles east of New York City on Tuesday morning, jumped into her car (her husband's was crushed beneath an oak tree), and

began to figure out how to get 11,000 home health aides and 3,500 clinicians to their pa- tients. "We had been prepar- ing our field staff for several days so they would have cell- phone connections with their patients, but now we were up against massive flooding and blackouts and fires."

On the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, where the Atlantic had cut through to join Jamaica Bay, nurses had begun to call Goldberg's cell during the height of the storm on Mon- day. One nurse said she was wading in to reach trapped patients. She walked seven blocks through knee-high water to get to a group home and found medicines had been washed away. She would get prescriptions refilled and return, she promised. But

by afternoon, downed wires sparked fires that eventu-

ally consumed 60 houses.

By nightfall, more than 100 homes were destroyed.

Many patients who had refused to evacuate were des- perate to escape floodwaters that were climbing past the first floors. Each nurse on Goldberg's Long Island team was reporting that they couldn't find several patients. …

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