South Dakota helps with Florida evacuations

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mandatory evacuations are underway as Hurricane Dorian takes aim at Florida.

The Category 5 hurricane battered parts of the Bahamas with 185 mile per hour winds.

From Florida to North Carolina, residents and government officials are preparing for the worst.

However, forecasts suggest the hurricane’s powerful core will remain offshore when it heads up the Southeast seacoast.

15,000 people at two Good Samaritan Society campuses in Florida are being evacuated ahead of Dorian.

The Incident Command Center at the national campus in Sioux Falls is working with another Incident Command Center in Florida to coordinate the evacuations.

Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 5 storm and is the second most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

That’s why Floridians are making preparations now for what’s to come.

“We’ve been watching the storm awfully closely, as everybody knows it’s been moving like the turtle,” Nate Schema, Vice President of Operations of Good Samaritan said.

Which is giving staff at the Good Samaritan Society plenty of time to respond, evacuating hundreds of senior citizens living at the campuses in Kissimmee and Daytona Beach.

“So we have two evacuations happening in two locations roughly 50 to 60 miles apart here along the central and eastern part of Florida,” Schema said.

In Sioux Falls, using technology and video conferencing, the command center at the Good Samaritan Society is focused on logistics, making sure there are enough buses and ambulances to transport people and getting ready for what’s next.

“That was our goal was to set up hard wire communications between both command centers and it’s just like they are sitting in the room with us,” Greg Santa Maria, Director of Public Safety at Sanford Health.

“You know they’re certainly no stranger to hurricanes and so this for them it’s kind of like a winter blizzard in the Dakotas, I mean this is, this is part of life if you live in, if you live in Florida,” Randy Bury, President of the Good Samaritan Society said.

And part of that living, sometimes means you have to leave temporarily.

“You know what, what we’ve gone into this from day one is the approach that the safety of our residents our patients and our staff. That’s number one. That’s our number one job and you see that through all the evacuations and all the care that we’re taking to try to get people in a safe location to kind of ride out the storm,” Bury said.

The staff and residents are being transported 60 miles north to DeLand, Florida where Good Samaritan Society also has a campus there.

They say it’s built on much higher ground.

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