Disaster Planning for the Disabled

In your community, are there any plans specific to evacuating disabled individuals?
In New York City, the answer is no.

WheelchairQuestion

What’s The Problem?
New Yorkers are in federal court arguing that the city needs disaster evacuation planning specifically for the disabled.  Numerous complaints were received after Hurricane Sandy by disabled residents who were unable to access evacuation vehicles, shelters, or resources. According to the CDC, this is a widespread issue, as about 50 million Americans, or roughly 20% of the population have disabilities or access needs. It is clear that disabled individuals may need special consideration during evacuation and recovery. So why aren’t we building their needs into disaster planning? And what can you be doing as a resident or government official to help?

How Can Recovers Help?

For individual residents, our new preparedness platform (currently called ‘Ready‘) provides disabled individuals with information specific to their situation and location such as:

  • How can I be better prepared?
  • Where is the nearest shelter?
  • Where is the nearest medical help?

The system also asks individuals with access needs if they would like special assistance from neighbors or local support systems in times of crisis.These pieces of information are essential to helping disabled individuals be more prepared for disasters.

wheelchairMap

For community organizers and emergency managers, our new preparedness platform (currently called ‘Ready‘) provides information specific for disabled preparedness such as:

  • Where are those individuals located?
  • What are their disabilities?
  • How can I contact them?

This information can help facilitate good planning for the community and includes meeting the needs of those individuals with special needs. Being aware of the needs of your community is essential for identifying any gaps that exist in your emergency planning and mitigating potential problems.

WheelchairCheck

How Can I Prepare?
Information on how disabled individuals can be more disaster prepared is available at the government disability website and on disastersrus.org. These sites include resources and tips specific to location and disability.

So are there any plans specific to evacuating disabled individuals in your community? It’s a question that may not be at the front of every community organizer’s mind, and in the case of New York city, the answer was no. But with the right information and some initiative, a community can remedy this situation easily. 1 of every 5 residents has a disability, they should be a part of the plan.

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