Vicar’s Landing hurricane evacuation a seamless experience


As Ponte Vedra Beach residents evacuated ahead of Hurricane Matthew, the staff at Vicar’s Landing managed the evacuation of the retirement community’s residents.

Ponte Vedra Beach had not been evacuated since 2004, but that changed with the impending arrival of Hurricane Matthew. All eyes were on the movement of the storm when a mandatory evacuation notice went out for Ponte Vedra Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 5. With 380 residents living at Vicar’s Landing, it became necessary to put into action the community’s emergency management plan.

“We knew for the safety of our members it was essential to execute the evacuation plan as smoothly as during the drills we held in June of this year,” Vicar’s Landing CEO Bruce Jones said. “So many residents and their families depend on us to continue to provide our services even if we are forced to leave the community and we have a moral obligation to find a safe place for them to weather the storm.”

A total of 117 residents went to a Jacksonville airport hotel via motor coach. The hotel was far enough inland that it would not be as affected by the storm.

“We were so grateful for the staff who helped us load the buses to go to the Jacksonville Airport,” said Shirley Patterson, a five-year resident of Vicar’s Landing. “Their patience and commitment to our safety made the evacuation seamless. Once we arrived at the airport, the staff was well organized in settling us into our rooms and arranging for activities and meals.”

Another 51 residents were taken on a weekend trip to Atlanta, where residents went to the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Museum, the High Museum, the Botanical Gardens and countless trips to the mall next door to the hotel.

“The evacuation could not have been better planned,” said Jim Marx, who moved into Vicar’s Landing three weeks before the hurricane. “ Having just moved in, we had not participated in the June drills. The staff was upbeat and well organized, which made being away from home so much less stressful.”

Residents residing in the facility’s assisted living and skilled nursing center were also evacuated. Eighty-six residents were taken to Camp Weed near Lake City, accompanied by 127 staff members who provided around-the-clock care.

Jones said that in light of the successful evacuation, Vicar’s Landing feels ready for any storm that comes along.

“I could not be more proud of the efforts of the staff to make our residents as comfortable as possible while being away from their homes,” he said. “We have an amazing group of caring professionals working at Vicar’s Landing.”