By Nancy Tipton
Independent Sunday Editor
Getting food, not a lack of cooking facilities, seems to be the biggest problem facing the directors of two Grand Island nursing homes in the wake of Tuesday's tornadoes.
Although there were no reports of injuries at four care homes in the city, Dick McKinney, assistant director of operations for North Hills Estates, which operates Parkside Manor and Lakeview Nursing Home, said if a food supply truck didn't get through Thursday, the nursing homes would be "kind of in a pinch" for food.
"We ate cold cereal and cold bread with boiled coffee for breakfast Wednesday," he said. "But I don't think we have enough food on hand to make it through the weekend."
Lakeview, located on West Highway 34, doesn't have natural gas, but is cooking with propane burners and has electricity produced by an emergency generator. Staff members and volunteers are hauling water form outside the city limits.
The 97-bed facility had 92 residents Tuesday, and although the building is only 1,500 yards from where one tornado touched down Tuesday, only sustained slight wind damage.
"The staff of both homes has been super. The residents have been super. Everyone has pitched in and many staff members had to cross unbelievable obstacles to make it to work," McKinney said.
Violet McVay, 2220 N. Custer, lost her home in the storm. That didn't stop her from reporting to work at Lakeview the next day. She was sent home by the staff.
"We were real lucky," McKinney said. "We stood in one wing of Lakeview and heard the 'freight train' go over our heads only to touch down in the golf course across the street."
Parkside does have natural gas for cooking and an emergency generator, but getting water and, food is a problem.
McKinney said if the homes don't get food by Friday, he will try to get food on an emergency basis from wholesalers in the city. If that doesn't work, the home officials will either have to rely on the Red Cross or make a plea for public help.
The other immediate problem is the lack of laundry facilities.
"We're in need of the use of a washer and dryer to wash bedding," he said. "Even if it's only one or two lads, we can deliver the laundry if someone will volunteer their machines."
Mrs. Patricia Wissel, administrator and CO-owner of Bauman Nursing Home at 800 Stoeger Drive, and Lebensraum Retirement Home at 118 S. Ingalls St., said the residents of those homes are "doing just fine."
Baumann has a built-in emergency generator to provide power and cooking facilities and is hauling water in from outside the city.
"Guests and families have pitched in and we, of course, implemented our emergency plan as soon as the warnings were issued," Mrs. Wissel said.
At the Lebensraum, staff members are cooking with natural gas, but the care home has no power. Mrs. Wissel said she hasn't moved any of the residents out of the home.
Food at those homes, she said, is not a problem because the generator kept the power on none of the food on hand spoiled.