Residents return to Bloomington nursing home after June flood evacuation

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind – Residents of a Bloomington nursing home were able to return to their home facility Tuesday, more than three months after historic flooding forced them to evacuate to a facility in Bedford.

The same June flooding that killed a Bloomington man and damaged dozens of homes and businesses forced the staff at Bloomington’s Garden Villa to rush all 103 residents out the door and onto buses and vans. As water rushed in the facility’s doors, staff members, firefighters, and volunteers spent roughly seven hours relocating the residents to Garden Villa’s sister facility in Bedford.

Over the last three-and-a-half months, a multi-million dollar renovation has completely rebuilt the interior of the facility, paving the way for a happy homecoming.

“Insulation, new electrical, new toilets, it’s all new,” said Garden Villa Administrator, Warren McCreery. “This building has been here since 1966, so to gut it and start new is awesome.”

McCreery said the renovation is funded through a combination of flood insurance, FEMA aid, and private investment by the facility’s owner. However, the mission was driven by the desire to bring residents back to the facility they call home.

“Like I didn’t let them down,” he said. “That I was able to keep them safe and get them back to where they wanted to be.”

“This would probably pass a Marine Corps inspection,” said resident Charley Morris as he reentered the Bloomington facility. “I think they did an excellent job, you can’t even tell it was flooded in here.”

Morris said he enjoyed his time while staying at the Bedford facility. However, returning to the Bloomington Garden Villa means coming back to the city where he was born and raised.

“It feels good to be back here, it really does,” Morris said.

As resident Nancy Hartman was setting into her new room at Garden Villa, she found a hand-made “welcome home” card on her bed. The cards were made by children at a local school and church, and there was one waiting for every resident. 

“It means a lot,” Hartman said.

Coming back to the facility also brings Hartman closer to her daughter, who lives in Bloomington.

McCreery said the handmade cards were just a small example of the support he and his staff have received from the Bloomington community over several difficult months. From the night of the evacuation when volunteers arrived with trucks and buses to help transport residents, to the following weeks when community members came to help load and carry boxes, the support has been there.

“It amazed me every day,” McCreery said. “To have people you don’t know, people you’ve never met show up and help.”

McCreery says some parts of the building still need restoration. He hopes to have that work done around the start of the new year.

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