BIRMINGHAM, AL – On Friday, Oct. 12, twelve evacuees from Panama City escaping Hurricane Michael arrived at Fair Haven on Montclair Road in Birmingham. Mathison Retirement Community in Panama City and Fair Haven in Birmingham are both owned by Birmingham-based nonprofit Methodist Homes of Alabama & Northwest Florida. Methodist Homes made the decision to fully evacuate Mathison by Tuesday as a precaution even though the retirement community is located in Zone D and was not under mandatory evacuation. All of its seventy-nine (79) were successfully evacuated Tuesday ahead of the storm. Twenty-seven residents, along with 7 of Mathison’s staff members and 4 Methodist Homes staff members, loaded a bus and left town at 11:30 am on Tuesday bound for a Montgomery hotel which was booked for them in anticipation of the storm.

The bus made a stop for lunch at 1 pm at their sister Methodist Homes community in Dothan, Wesley Place on Honeysuckle. From there, the group made it to Montgomery where overnight hotel arrangements had been made for the evacuees and staff. Staff members from Wesley Gardens in Montgomery, another Methodist Homes community, brought meals to the hotel for each breakfast, lunch and dinner of their entire 3-day hotel stay while waiting for damage reports out of Panama City.

Methodist Homes is offering placement assistance and medication assistance for all Mathison residents as they have need. They are also offering all available rooms at their other 4 retirement and health communities to the displaced Mathison residents. In addition to the 12 people received at Fair Haven on October 12, six evacuees went to Wesley Gardens in Montgomery, three to Wesley Haven Villa in Pensacola, and six to Wesley Place on Honeysuckle in Dothan.

NOAA satellite image snapshot of Mathison after Hurricane Michael. Building is standing, but there is some damage, including interior water intrusion.

“This experience has taught us how fortunate we are to have a network of retirement and health care communities,” said Christopher Tomlin, President & CEO of Methodist Homes of Alabama & Northwest Florida. “Helping our Panama City residents get the food and care they need on the road would have been much harder if we had not been able to depend on help from our other communities in Dothan, Montgomery and Birmingham.”

By late Wednesday night, it became apparent that the Mathison evacuees would need to find alternate housing, at least for the short-term future.

“We will not be able to assess the full extent of the damage to Mathison until Monday,” said Christopher. “But without power and infrastructure, the building is uninhabitable. We have made contact with the families and are helping them make alternate arrangements for their loved ones.”

Along with Christopher, three other Methodist Homes officers have been present with the fleeing residents every day since the decision was made to evacuate: Liz Prosch, RN, Vice President of Quality and Mission Integration; Vicki Jackson, VP, Director of Human Resources; and Michael D. Giles, Senior VP, Chief Operating Office and General Counsel.

NOTE:  Family members needing assistance placing a Mathison resident or needing information about an evacuated resident, please contact us at info@methodisthomes.org with your name and contact information, the resident’s name, and the urgent need, if applicable.  M-F you may call and ask for Sherri at 205-951-2442.

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