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During The Oroville Evacuation, Some Senior Citizens Were Not Evacuated

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Oroville evacuation order went out to 180,000 people Feb. 12. But some nursing home and hospital patients in Sutter County didn't go anywhere.

Sutter County has a list of assisted living facilities and hospitals that require help moving patients to pre-designated facilities during an emergency.

When Sutter County issued its evacuation order, Nancy O'Hara, director of Sutter County's Health and Human Services Department, began calling the facilities on that list. Some of those facilities chose not to evacuate even though she encouraged them to do so.

"Well, having lived here all my life and been through two floods, it would not be a decision I would make because I've seen what has happened when people don't evacuate when they should," O'Hara says. "People have died."

She says while some didn't evacuate at all, others — like River Valley Care Center in Live Oak — took hours to do so, despite frequent calls from her and other agencies urging the center to do so. River Valley was the first hospital she called.

"I did relay that information to the administrator, that because they are in Live Oak, they are a priority," O'Hara says. "I want to get the transportation out to you first. So, you know, you do it in the order because of the location that they're at. But, that person was just unclear as to whether they really needed to evacuate."

The county is compiling a list of which facilities evacuated and which did not.

O'Hara says she plans to review evacuation plans with those facilities.

The county, though, cannot compel a facility to move patients during an emergency.

"Each facility is responsible for their own evacuation plans. That's part of their licensing, that they must have a place where they evacuate to. We do know they have issues with transportation and so we assist them with that."

Rideout Hospitals and senior care facilities in Yuba City and Marysville evacuated their patients or moved them to higher floors.

River Valley did begin moving patients — 12 hours after receiving the evacuation order.

The facility refused to comment.

Phone calls to 10 facilities in the county found four evacuated Sunday night and two did not fully evacuate the night of the order, including River Valley.

Three other facilities could not be reached for comment.

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