Nearly 100 residents of a Locust Street nursing home were evacuated on Sunday evening after a sewage backup could not be fixed.
It all started at about 12:30 p.m. on Sunday when sewage backed up into Twin Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center and left about an inch of water on the first floor.
Crews worked for most of the afternoon to free the blockage, but after using a private company as well as the Department of Public Works' vacuum truck, the backup remained.
"We were unsuccessful in all attempts," said Danvers Fire Chief Kevin Farrell.
At 5 p.m. the decision was made to evacuate the facility since there was no working sanitary sewer facilities in the building.
All 94 residents were moved to other, similar facilities, including Radius Healthcare Center, Hunt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Cedar Glen Care and Rehabilitation Center - all in Danvers - plus unspecified facilities in Andover and Wakefield. Some of the facilities that residents were move to are owned by Sunbridge Health Care - Twin Oaks' parent company - and others are not.
At about 7:30 p.m., Farrell said there were still 18 residents to be moved and he expected all residents to be moved by 9 p.m.
The evacuation of a hursing facility the size of Twin Oaks is unprecedented in his 27-year career involved in emergency services in Danvers, Farrell said.
"This is the first time we've had to evacuate a health care facility," Farrell said.
The evacuation was done with ambulances, chair cars and vans from Lyons Ambulance and Lifeline Ambulance. Some residents walked, others were in a wheelchair and others on a stretcher. There were two or three residents that were moved to a new facility by family members in private vehicles, Farrell said.
In addition, the Danvers Police Department helped with traffic on Locust Street and the sewer department and health department were involved at the nurisng home. An additional Fire Department engine company had to be called in on overtime to help assist, Farrell said.
The backup was isolated to a portion of the sewer line that is private and owned by Twin Oaks, Farrell said. The pipe likely collapsed and it will have to be dug up to be repaired. Those repairs are likely to take at least a few days. The first floor will also have to be cleaned up and environmental testing will need to be conducted before the residents can return, he said.
Since the evacuation was not urgent and there was no imminent life threat, it made the evacuation easier, Farrell said. Residents were able to wait inside the heated building until they were transferred.
"It's been a long day," he said.