Brookdale residents return home in time for the holidays following Hurricane Laura

Brookdale welcome home party

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, residents at the Brookdale Senior Living Facility returned home for the first time since Hurricane Laura.

After more than 3 months away from home, after being displaced by Hurricane Laura, the seniors of Brookdale Lake Charles were welcomed home Tuesday with a “Home for the Holidays” party thrown by staff and loved ones.

The building had been undergoing repairs while the seniors were temporarily sheltered in Mandeville, but now - they get to come home, just in time for the holidays.

Ever since Hurricane Laura devastated the area, Brookdale residents like Elrita Eikenhorst have patiently waited for this day...

“It’s been a long time it seems like. I’m very anxious to see my friends because they’re family.”

The day where good friends are reunited.

“It’s been 3 months...”

3 long months for many of the residents. For Elrita, she’s lived at the facility since 2018 after losing her home in the floods from Hurricane Harvey.

“I lost my home and everything in it really,” Eikenhorst said.

Having recovered from Harvey and now Laura and Delta...she says the days have felt more like years but she gets through it the best way she knows how.

“I did a lot of puzzles, I like to do puzzles. That’s how I keep my sanity.”

After undergoing repairs, Brookdale is one of the few long-term facilities in the area that have been able to safely bring residents back.

“We had significant damage,” said Sales Manager Georgina Graves. “The entire building had a complete renovation. All the rooms have completely new flooring. Completely new walls.”

The return home is a gift not only for the residents but the staff as well - having seen the physical and emotional toll that the storms have had on the older community.

“And it’s difficult for families to support because they’re struggling,” said Nurse Practitioner Maureen Poe. “I’ve noticed with the evacuation and huge changes, several residents have had functional decline. Many had trouble finding medications...just general confusion.”

With Santa on hand and a little bit of cheer...the last few months start to seem like a distant memory.

“It started to make us realize while we’re all happy to be back in this building. It became abundantly clear that home is not a place. Home is the people.”

Since Hurricane Luara, all 37 residents were evacuated to a long-term care facility in Mandeville. All 37 were able to safely return.

Copyright 2020 KPLC. All rights reserved.