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Agency helps seniors, Medicaid recipients prepare for potential storms

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Fridge stocked, emergency kit packed, electronics charged--all before potential storms roll through Lincoln County.

"We're usually prepared," said Diane Isner, a caregiver at Lincoln County Operating Company, Inc. "Sometimes a little over-exaggerated, but it's better to make sure we have enough than to not have anything."

Five days a week, Isner takes care of 75-year-old John Tully, of Hamlin.  Early this week supervisors at the non-profit in Hamlin alerted her that storms might hit the region.  She spent Tuesday and Wednesday shopping for Tully to make sure he has all the food and personal items he needs.

"She does everything, she cleans, she cooks," Tully said.

Tully, who's paraplegic, relies on LCOC for many of his every day needs.  The agency provides services to more than 500 senior citizens and Medicaid recipients across Lincoln County.

These services range from personal care to a "meals on wheels" program.  On a normal day, employees deliver one meal to clients. When emergency situations are expected, food providers can deliver up to five meals.

Employees learned to step up preparation measures after the derecho hit last June.  Much of the clientele lives in rural areas, making them hard to reach when power lines go down or trees block the road.

"It was very hectic for us because we didn't have power for several days," Tully said. "A lot of people went a whole week without it."

The winds ripped the siding off Tully's house last year.  He just recently hired someone to help him fix it.

Caregivers are encouraged to visit their clients especially when storms hit the area.  But Tully said his caregiver brings her own weather every single day.

"She makes the sun shine every morning," Tully said.

The agency also provided most clients with emergency preparedness kits from the American Red Cross.  The backpacks are equipped with essentials ranging from bottled water to ponchos to a flashlight.

Representatives from the American Red Cross will visit Hamlin Thursday to distribute more kits to those in need, in addition to training caregivers on how to properly use them.

For more information, contact LCOC at 304-824-3448.