SHERIDAN — For the first time in more than 15 years, the Sheridan Senior Center had to cancel Meals on Wheels delivery of homecooked meals Friday. While the center has closed its building a couple times due to inclement weather, meal delivery has continued day in and day out, 365 days per year, ever since Assistant Director Linda Gostas started working at the center 18 years ago.
The Senior Center delivers nearly 200 meals per day in Sheridan, Dayton and Ranchester.
“We’re not used to not serving people,” Gostas said.
She and a skeleton crew worked in the cold, dark center Friday to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.
The snow and wind were annoying but not the reason for the closure, Gostas said.
Wet, heavy snow caused a power outage, cutting phone service and making it impossible to prepare food at the Senior Center.
Kitchen staff arrived before 6 a.m. to begin food preparation for the day. At approximately 6 a.m., the power went out. By 7 a.m., when it seemed the power would not return anytime soon, program directors made the decision to close for the day and cancel meal delivery, Gostas said.
The Sheridan Mini Bus was able to operate on a limited basis, taking clients to doctor appointments and assisting with prescription pick-up. Day Break services were closed, as were in-home Help at Home services unless it was a critical need.
“We are following our emergency preparedness plan through this process,” Communications Director Lois Bell said. “We’re all pulling in together, and we have a good crew that is going to help get us through.”
Senior Center staff immediately began calling clients of home delivered meals to see if they were in dire need of a meal. All clients said they were fine for the day, Gostas said. Clients of Day Break services and the Mini Bus were also contacted and cared for.
The center leased a generator to keep food cool as necessary.
Gostas said the risk management plan was working well and morale among the staff who were present was good.
As of noon Friday, the Senior Center still had no power.
“We’re like everyone else waiting to hear when the power is back on,” Gostas said. “We hope to be open Saturday; we hope MDU can get us back up soon.”
Any seniors who need assistance or need to contact the Senior Center should call Lois Bell at 751-9171 or 751-5597, which are back-up cell phone numbers and should be availabe even if the power outage continues. The Senior Center also has a Facebook page that will provide updates.
Heritage Towers Service Coordinator Nancy Drummond said Heritage Towers experienced a few power glitches but no power failure. She said without meal delivery service, residents were cooking and baking in preparation for a potluck together. Heritage Towers does have a plan in place in case of a major emergency. If the power does go out, residents are encouraged to go to the dining room where backup generators will provide heat.
“These guys are awesome. I never worry about them because they take care of themselves so well,” Drummond said.
In fact, with a chuckle, Drummond noted that most Heritage Towers residents hardly batted an eyelash at Friday’s storm.
“They think we’re all a bunch of sissies because in the old days you didn’t pay attention to this kind of stuff at all,” Drummond said. “This, too, shall pass.”