NEWBERRY — White Oak Manor of Newberry is lending a hand to those affected by Hurricane Matthew by opening up its facilities to those evacuating from Charleston.
White Oak Manor is currently sheltering 42 residents from White Oak Manor in Charleston and has also provided local accommodations to staff members who came from Charleston.
“We are at full capacity with 146 beds here. We have as many as we can accommodate at this time,” White Oak Manor Administrator Melissa Gilliam said.
To accommodate the residents from Charleston, White Oak Manor transformed their front dining area into sleeping quarters at night and dining room/activity room during the day.
Most of the residents who came to White Oak Manor brought their own belongings, including clothes for a few days and their medications.
“When you’re dealing with a mass evacuation like this, some things get misplaced and so for the people who didn’t come with any belongings, we would go to Goodwill or Walmart to get them through the next couple of days,” Gilliam said.
White Oak Manor has also been in constant contact with the families of those coming in from Charleston.
“We’ve talked with all of their families letting them know they arrived in Newberry and that they are safe,” she said. “A lot of them are asking to call their families each day just to chat with them. We’ve actually seen some of the White Oak Charleston residents have visitors from their families in Charleston.”
The response from the Charleston residents has been nothing but positive since they arrived in Newberry.
Right now, about 15 employees from White Oak Charleston are in Newberry. First Baptist Church in Newberry has a mission house that they have given White Oak Manor access to. The employees from Charleston are staying there when they get off work.
Two White Oak Manor Newberry employees have also opened up their homes to accommodate more employees from Charleston. Many of the residents passed the time by doing activities.
“Their favorite is always bingo,” Gilliam said. “They like to do impromptu singing. They really enjoy listening to gospel music. It’s just really nice to get to know them and their stories and introducing ourselves. It’s nice to learn about them as people and not just a number coming in our door, learning their name and about their families.”
The next step is to assess the damage and relocate the residents back to Charleston.
“You’re talking about 43 people, most of them who can’t walk and putting them in a wheelchair accessible van and getting them back with all of their belongings,” Gilliam said.
Gilliam said White Oak Manor looked over their emergency plans after the October 2015 flooding.
“Our state and our governor have done a great job at handling the storm and really giving us several days to get squared away before the storm hits,” Gilliam said.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @The NBOnews.