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Redding retirement home ready for wildfire season

Last year hurricanes and wildfires ripped through the country. With it came devastating images of people stuck in retirement homes or evacuated from them.

The Veterans Home of California in Redding sits on acres of vegetation but as wildfire season approaches, the residents and staff are not worried.

Resident Michael Vancleemput said he enjoys the Veterans Home so much, it's worth going to war for.

"This is the best place to live," said Vancleemput. "I mean, best place to live. I mean, worth joining the military, doing a stint, then coming to live here. It's that good."

After the Veteran's Home was evacuated in Napa last year for wildfires, one question came up: were they prepared?

"This facility is designed to be a shelter in place facility and that means that we just hold strong right here in our actual location," said the public information officer for the Veterans home, Gary Moore. "We've got walls that are designed to withstand fire up to two hours."

Sheltering in place is the first option, but not the last.

"However," Moore said. "If things get beyond the level of that, and there is risk involved then we can be, specifically with fire, we can be instructed by the fire marshal or the incident command center with the fire department. If they say 'you have to evacuate' we will evacuate and we have partnerships in place with other facilities in the Redding area where we can transfer our residents to."

He said all the residents are capable of being evacuated.

"I wouldn't say it would be difficult at all, there are residents that have mobility issues and we are prepared to transport them and in any case, whether it be fire or rain or any evacuation, we have professionals here in place that train for that."

The evacuation plan is reviewed every year and employees go through training to be ready when disaster strikes and the residents know what to do too.

"When we move in here they give us a form," said Vancleemput, "Earthquakes and fires. They tell exactly what to do."

"We do ongoing fire drills residents know about the fire drills they participate in the fire drills," said Moore.


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