Blazing a Trail: Wildfires and bus trip

Blazing a Trail: Leadership in the Wake of Wildfires

What happens when all 25 independent residents on a 100-mile bus trek from Santa Rosa to Sacramento, suddenly need to use the restroom? Before COVID-19, a rest area or gas station would have been ideal stops. Given the current circumstances, Larry Brooks, director of dining services at Spring Lake Village, decided to pull the bus (that he volunteered to drive) up to his own house; a space he knew was safe and virus-free.

The year 2020 has earned the tagline, “expect the unexpected,” proving to be one of the most unusual, unanticipated, and unpredictable years to date in our lifetime. While sitting on the couch watching tv at 9:42 pm on the evening of September 27, Larry certainly didn’t expect to receive a photo of Glass Fire, a ravaging wildfire, less than a mile from the Spring Lake Village community where he’s worked since April 2018.

Glass Fire’s relentless blaze gave little warning, allowing only one hour for all staff—many of which were off-duty, to help evacuate residents from the premises. Dee Ann Hyatt, director of human resources at Spring Lake Village, noted Morrison associates, “were instrumental in our ability to successfully evacuate upwards of 400 residents from our property and over the following days getting all residents to a safe interim location.”

That location for 80 residents was a Residence Inn in Sacramento, California. With the guidance and support from Covia’s leadership, Morrison Living’s team dove right in helping in every way imaginable—ensuring rooms were properly sanitized, residents had medicine and clothing supplies to last a few weeks, and that the quality of food served at the Residence Inn met the dietary needs and standards of evacuated residents.

During their stay, residents thrived in unfamiliar territory, because they were surrounded by those they knew. Many members of the Morrison team traveled back and forth from Spring Lake Village in Santa Rosa to the Residence Inn in Sacramento, assisting in all areas and preparing for their safe return.

On October 19, after four exhaustive weeks away, residents were finally reunited with the home they know and love at Spring Lake Village. The best part—all 80 residents returned the same way they left: coronavirus-free! A true testament to the Environment team’s commitment to ensure quality infection control is a top priority.

Rain, sunshine, or firestorm, our Morrison team always remains committed to being the best part of someone’s day.

A special thanks to these Morrison leaders who played major roles in the successful evacuation and relocation process: Larry Brooks, Ion Aguinagalde, Garland Stinson, Kara Harris, Dave Wyman, Gianni Carpenello, John Child, John MacDonald and Adrian Alberto.