MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Spring Hill Manor Nursing home has been around for decades, withstanding Hurricanes Frederic, Ivan and Katrina – and many tropical storms in between.
Through all those storms, about the worst thing to happen to the building was power disruption and damaged shingles.
“Nothing like this,” said Brianne Barnes, the administrator of the facility.
But Hurricane Sally surprised many people. On Wednesday at about 7:15 a.m., with the eye of the hurricane well to the east, the storm uprooted a giant oak tree behind the building and flung it through the roof with residents still inside.
“They had to get a crane to pull it off in pieces,” said Carol Chavers, the secretary and bookkeeper of the facility.
Chavers said the facility has a maximum capacity of 34 but added that it was not completely full when the storm hit. She described the impact as workers cleared debris on Tuesday.
“Nobody was hurt. Thank goodness, nobody was killed,” she said. “We got ’em evacuated pretty quickly. … It was amazing how fast they got everybody out of there.”
The section that the tree destroyed was a hallway. Had the tree fallen into a part of the building with bedrooms, it could have been much worse.
Barnes told FOX10 News that she made a quick call to St. Paul’s Episcopal School, which sent buses and vans to evacuate the residents.
Chavers said residents and staff are together at Linwood Nursing Home, which had extra space.
“So, we’re still all together, like a family,” she said.
Barnes said one resident went to the hospital as a precaution but was unhurt.
“She didn’t even have a scratch on her,” she said.
Spring Hill Manor is one of the few independent, family-owned nursing homes remaining in the United States. Barnes said her father bought it more than 40 years ago at age 19.
“It’s very unusual,” she said.
Workers made progress on Tuesday, covering a gaping hole with wood panels. Employee said they are eager to rebuild.
“We’re definitely coming back,” Chavers said.
Barnes said the process could take six to eight months.
“We plan to build a state-of-the-art facility,” she said.