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Cheektowaga nursing home residents evacuated after snow causes roof damage

More than 180 residents were evacuated from a Cheektowaga nursing home Thursday as a precaution after authorities found possible structural damage to the roof caused by the accumulation of heavy snow.

The town’s volunteer fire companies and police assisted the Garden Gate Health Care Facility in moving its 184 residents from the facility at 2365 Union Road to the Appletree Business Park, about a quarter-mile away at 2875 Union, according to Dawn Harsch, communications director for the McGuire Group, which owns Garden Gate.

The residents were moved in the facility’s wheelchair vans and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority buses.

They were taken to a large lobby-like area in the business park, with the Garden Gate’s nursing staff there to assist them.

After they being served dinner and having their medical needs are assessed, Harsch said, they will be moved to one of the McGuire Group’s four other nursing home or local hospitals or other nursing homes, under the McGuire Group’s mutual aid plan. Among their destinations will be DeGraff Hospital in North Tonawanda, Highpointe on Michigan in Buffalo, and Greenfields.

Harsch said all of the residents were triaged and would be traveling with their appropriate medications and medical charts.

She said family members can call Terry Collins at 668-8100 if they have concerns about where their loved ones will be transferred.

“This is an event that all of our staff is trained to handle,” Harsch said.

“We have protocols and policies in place that are being followed. We are prepared to handle any issue, whether it be snow, flooding heat, etc., and everything has been handled according to protocol. Our residents are safe, and their needs are being met.”

Questions about the condition of the Garden Gate roof were raised after a roof collapsed next door under heavy snow around 6 a.m. Wednesday at the former Rosa’s superstore at 2331 Union, which is now being used as a warehouse for Dave Gordon’s christmascentral.com.

The warehouse roof collapse resulted in a natural gas leak that led Garden Gate, which is about 20 feet from the warehouse, to move 20 elderly residents to another end of its facility away from the leak.

National Fuel workers arrived and turned off the gas.

Hirsch said authorities inspecting the warehouse roof collapse noticed a partial depression in the nursing home’s roof next door.

Police said town inspectors noticed that beams in the Garden Gate dining room roof are twisting and cracks are forming in the walls from the stress.

Garden Gate crews were on the roof Thursday morning removing snow to determine the extent of the depression and any damage, Harsch said.

As a precaution, she said, the nursing home was evacuated, starting around 1 p.m.

The snow removal and roof inspection will continue Friday, she added, with a possible decision then on what will be done.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com