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Neighbors in Brookstone Senior Living felt left behind after Tallahassee tornado; how the community responded

Posted at 5:31 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 18:49:16-04
  • Seniors at a Southeast Tallahassee senior living facility say they feared for their lives when power went out from tornadoes Friday.
  • Neighbors tell me that many were stuck on the second and third floor for days.
  • Watch the video to see how the community came out to help:

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Senior neighbors in Southeast Tallahassee say they were in fear for their lives after a tornado knocked out power for 4 days.

Neighbors living at the Brookstone Senior Living complex tell me they were trapped inside the building until resources came Sunday.

I'm reaching out to those that helped them and the company that manages that facility.

"People were hanging on the wall feeling so they can get to their apartment and then they didn't even know if it was their apartment because they couldn't see." That's how Jodi Hunter described the weekend after tornados came through Southeast Tallahassee.

It knocked out power at the 208 unit low-income Senior Living Facility for nearly four days, making elevators in the three story building inoperable. "People up there with electric wheelchairs with no legs can't come down. Second and third floor, they're trapped."

Neighbor David Hand also said he was concerned about those neighbors. "We've got people with disabilities on the second and third floor that have medical issues and mobility issues. They're in wheel chairs and if we would've had a fire they would've been stranded and would've gotten cooked."

While the power did come back on Monday, Hunter and Hand told me management at the complex didn't do much to help, with them not at the property and not calling for help.

"I mean how can you do that" Hunter said. "We're people. Yes we're poor, and we're old and we're disabled but we're still people. We still have a heart and a soul."

On Monday, I reached out via phone call and email to Cambridge Management, the team behind Brookstone. They did not return my request for comment. I followed up with them Tuesday. Still no response.

To get better perspective, I spoke with Jocelyn Fliger, the president of Big Bend Elder Care Services. "As far as independent living facilities for seniors, they're not registered with any of the entities that usually guide senior services and that leads to a lack of regulation."

I asked her: "No one is required to be there overnight at places like Brookstone?"

Fliger said no.

Some have come down to spend a lot of time here. The Florida Department of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Elderly Affairs and State Representative Allison Tant have been on the ground since Sunday. They were preparing meals and handing out water.

Something that Hunter said was a lifeline for many neighbors. "Oh, it makes my heart swell. I am like 'thank you.' There are still good people out there in this world."

If you want to help out seniors in need, you can donate food and toiletries to the Big Bend Elder Care Services on West Tennessee Street.