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Group home residents will have special needs safely met


By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 13, 2018

About 30 people living with intellectual disabilities at group homes in Pitt County will shelter in place during Hurricane Florence for as long as possible, with a backup plan for evacuation to shelter ready if needed, the homes’ director said Thursday.

The nature of those disabilities requires that people who have them be provided shelter in an environment that provides for their special needs, said Mary Grace Bright, executive director of Pitt County Group Homes, a nonprofit corporation that provides long-term 24-hour care and support to adults with intellectual disabilities and autism at five group homes throughout the county. 

“People who live in our group homes don’t do well in a shelter shared with the general population,” Bright said. “DSS and Pitt  County Emergency services do an excellent job of understanding that.”

Pitt County Group Homes operates under the standards of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Small groups of residents occupy each of the organization’s fully-staffed residential homes located throughout Pitt County. The group homes provide an environment where residents learn new skills and experience new opportunities in a secure, family-like atmosphere, according to its website information.

The staff will remain with the residents throughout the storm’s presence and aftermath as long as they can be safe and comfortable there, Bright said.

“Our homes are very safe and sturdy and should present a problem for the residents,” she said. “We do have an emergency disaster preparedness plan to follow in these circumstances. I will be in close contact with all of the homes and emergency services. If we get into a situation where we need safer sheltering, we will contact someone with the Pitt County Department of Social Services.”

Pitt County Group Homes does not care for people with chronic physical disabilities, including stroke patients, those on home ventilators and those confined to bed or wheelchairs. Services for that population are provided through Pitt County Social Services. Several attempts this week to reach DSS and its special needs coordinator were unsuccessful.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.