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Laura Szweda, a Disability Integration Specialist with Abilities in Motion, has been deployed with the American Red Cross for the second time to support the response efforts to Hurricane Dorian in Florida. She was last deployed to southern Texas, and then to Louisiana, to assist with flooding relief efforts in early July. Laura, who has been blind for nearly two decades, will advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Laura is a regional team member with the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter Disability Integration Program. Her role as a disability integration specialist is to educate and advocate for more inclusive planning with organizations and community members regarding emergency readiness and preparedness, which ties directly to her role at Abilities in Motion. Throughout her deployment, Laura and her team conduct disability integration shelter surveys to make sure that the shelters and their activities are inclusive and accessible for anyone with an access or functional need.
“What they’re anticipating, and what’s already going on now, is shelters are open, and they are receiving clients coming into the shelters because everybody is prepping, leaving their homes—or staying, depending on what their choices are,” she said in a phone interview. “So basically we’re down here to make sure everything is ready for them, and they are independent and maintain their same lifestyles while in the shelter.”