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Woodingford evacuation: update

County of Oxford CAO Peter Crockett has nothing but praise for the response of staff and community partners in the wake of the evacuation of 32 long-term care residents due to flooding in Woodingford Lodge, Tillsonburg.

“It’s one thing to have a (contingency) plan, it’s another to be able to execute it,” he said Monday morning via telephone. “They have just been phenomenal.”

But he is also extremely appreciative of the understanding of both residents and their families, promising everything possible is being done to deal with an unforseen ‘significant disruption’ in their lives.

“We’ll endeavour to get them back home as quickly as we can.”

An issue with a one-and-a-half-inch sprinkler system pipe was discovered around 3 a.m. Saturday, said Crockett. Water leaked out into the ceiling and walls of the Cedar Crest wing on the eastern side of the facility, causing major damage as well as extensive flooding.

“That’s where the predominant damage is,” said Crockett.

The Rosewood wing on Woodingford’s western side remained largely intact, added Oxford’s CAO, but significant damage to shared areas including the dining room as well as the nurse call network, fire safety and electrical and computer systems impacted every resident throughout the building.

The area around the entrance to the tunnel to Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital (TDMH) has also proven to be something of a catch basin.

“The tunnel itself is fine,” said Crockett.

The decision to evacuate residents was made shortly after 3 a.m., says Crockett.

“No power, damp, not a good environment to be in – you’ve got to move quickly.”

Thirty-two residents were moved to other health care facilities in the county with the aid of the Tillsonburg Fire Service, Oxford County EMS, Woodstock Transit and local transportation agencies. On an emergency basis, relocation sites included TDMH, the Maple Manor long-term care home in Tillsonburg and Woodingford Lodge locations in Ingersoll and Woodstock.

The evacuation/transfer process was completed by around 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

“They are safe, they are warm, they are being well-looked after,” said Crockett.

Woodingford Tillsonburg staff has been distributed similarly, in order to offset resident disruption as much as possible.

“They at least see a familiar face,” said Crockett.

The situation is not ideal, given some residents are being housed in ward-like conditions in common areas in other facilities. Longer-term, the plan is to move residents to TDMH and Alexandra Hospital in Ingersoll. They are safe and well-looked after, Crockett reiterated, “but it would be better to get them into a more sustainable space.”

The process of residential return can roughly be seen in three phases: the clean-up and drying out process currently underway; repairs to the less-damaged Rosewood wing and common areas required for rehabitation; and finally, more extensive repairs for the Cedar Crest wing.

The first phase is ‘largely well on its way,’ said Crockett, who is hoping Rosewood may be ready for residents within a week or two.

“We’re not sure yet in terms of Cedar Crest,” he admitted. “That will obviously be several weeks.”

Crockett repeated his appreciation for the efforts and understanding of those affected, stating it’s in times of crisis, that one appreciates the quality of people involved. Residents and their families will continue to be updated as the process unfolds.



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