Savannah family says county medical registry failed them during Irma evacuations

SAVANNAH, Ga. – On Tuesday thousands made their way back to Savannah after evacuating out Hurricane Irma’s path.

Many chose to stay at home for personal, financial and logistical reasons.

Fannie Collins says she tried to evacuate her mother, Willie Mae Collins but was unsuccessful.

Collins, 90, has Alzheimer’s and is currently immobile or able to communicate clearly.

Her daughter Fannie says she made sure her mom was properly signed up with the county’s medical registry to assist with evacuation in case an emergency would happen. That emergency turned out to be Hurricane Irma.

Collins said they received an automated phone call from the county informing them to be ready Thursday morning for a pickup to take them to a safer location.

The Collins live in a marked flood zone that remained under mandatory evacuation during the storm.

Fannie Collins told WSAV she and her mother were ready but no one came. She said she started making calls, including to local hospitals to see if she could get a room for her mom to be in during the storm in case their home lost power.

After 24 hours, she called the Chatham Emergency Management Agency which offered them a shelter plan.

“They said that we would have to go to the Civic Center and I said, ‘She can’t go to the Civic Center because she’s bed ridden.’

The family chose to decline the shelter plan and move forward with their plan, Collins says, of a secured room at Memorial Hospital. When an ambulance came to pick them up on Friday afternoon, the hospital called as they were about to pull out of the neighborhood.

“She told me they had a room for my mom but they had given it away because she didn’t get there Thursday.”

They had to unload her mom from the ambulance and take her back inside. The family then spent the storm inside their home. Soon they lost power which made it difficult for Fannie since she feeds, washes and cares for her mother.

Collins says she, ‘followed all the rules,’ for the registry and for two days had to manage in the dark. While WSAV was visiting her at home, the her electricity came back on. While it was much-needed relief for the family, Fannie Collins says she wants to know why her mom was not able to get a hospital bed and why it took so long for them to get assistance.

WSAV spoke to CEMA and the Chatham County Health Department which confirmed that Collins was on the registry list but said it is looking into specifically why Collins was not able to get a room during the storm.

WSAV will keep working on this story and provide any update on-air and online.


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