When operating a senior living community in Florida, one needs to treat hurricanes as more than just a possibility. Almost every Florida-based senior living community (and many others along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico) is going to be in the path of a hurricane at least once in its existence – it’s just a matter of time. So you need to plan and prepare for when a hurricane strikes, not if.

At Amavida in Southwest Florida, that kind of readiness and foresight literally is built into our 32-acre community. The entire property was built to Category 5 standards, and our clubhouse doubles as a hurricane shelter in the event of a storm.

Within the clubhouse is a bunker encased in cinder block, concrete and steel that is elevated 27 feet above sea level. Four natural gas-powered, 500-kilowatt generators power the entire community, including one that is rooftop-elevated to protect against flooding and power the clubhouse specifically. Protected by a firewall, the generators have a 10,000-gallon diesel fuel backup so we can ensure that our residents are kept cool and comfortable and provide any necessary medical services in the days following a storm.

All of our residents have the option to shelter in place, which is especially helpful for seniors who are less mobile due to medical issues or other reasons. It can be a challenge for any senior citizen to evacuate their community during a hurricane. Between our clubhouse and the community facilities, we can accommodate all Amavida residents and their pets, plus staff members. The clubhouse can convert to a fully secure acute-care environment for Amavida’s memory care residents, who need an extra level of comfort and security in their everyday lives.

But it takes more than a safe space to ride out a storm. And it requires advance planning to meet whatever the wind might blow your way.

That’s why you need to plan for many other steps when the forecast is ominous. Make sure to have multiple-day supplies of prescription medications and medical equipment on hand, so that care for residents can extend well beyond the actual hurricane. Food, water and bedding should be available for the length of the storm and its potential aftermath. 

Amavida is designed for seniors who love life, and the safety, security and comfort of our residents is a focus of our community each and every day. We maintain that focus whether it’s a typical, sunny Florida day or when nature sends along a hurricane. Our community and its residents can weather any storm that comes our way – as long as we are properly prepared for it. And at Amavida, we definitely are.