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Evacuees go to other nursing homes

La Salle County Nursing Home was open Wednesday, but there were no residents. They were evacuated Tuesday because of the rising river.
La Salle County Nursing Home was open Wednesday, but there were no residents. They were evacuated Tuesday because of the rising river.

The doors were open Wednesday morning at La Salle County Nursing Home, with a few employees on hand.

But all the residents were gone.

Because of the forecast for flooding on the nearby Illinois River, the county-owned nursing home west of Ottawa evacuated all 47 residents within two hours Tuesday night, with the last ones leaving about 8 p.m.

The majority of them went to Ottawa Pavilion and Mendota Lutheran Home. The others were taken to five other places, including OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa. They are expected to return in two or three days.

Chris Csernus, the nursing home's administrator, said the evacuation went well, with the home receiving help from the Wallace Fire Department. He said he decided around 2 p.m. Tuesday to evacuate residents. The staff spent the next few hours making arrangements with other nursing homes.

"We decided to do the evacuation, because we didn't want to get in a position where we couldn't leave the facility," he said.

The nursing home is accustomed to evacuations. Its most recent one was nearly a year ago after a tornado damaged the building. Residents returned after renovations were completed more than six months later.

Typically, the rising river is what prompts the home's evacuations. Such a situation last happened in April 2013, the worst flooding in recent memory.

"Water has never gotten in the building, but the parking lot has been flooded," Csernus said.

 
The river water still was at a distance from the home Wednesday morning, as the river is projected to crest around midnight Thursday.

He called the flooding this week a "perfect storm."

"You had the snow, it melted fast, you had frozen ground, and it rained a lot," Csernus said.

When the nursing home evacuated last year, it had 68 residents. Csernus said the number has declined because nursing homes are experiencing a shortage of certified nurse aides. Without enough CNAs, he said, the home cannot take more residents.

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