Disaster planning is essential for people with disabilities

BY LINDA MASTANDREA: For More Info, Go Here…https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/466982-disaster-planning-is-essential-for-people-with-disabilities

Imagine there’s a hurricane swirling violently in warm ocean waters with a forecasted track that will send it barreling toward your city within the next five to seven days. What would you do? Would you be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if your local officials ordered a mandatory evacuation? Would you be prepared to live in a shelter, hotel, or with friends and family — for days, possibly weeks at a time — if your house became uninhabitable due to severe wind damage or flooding?  

As the director of FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, I work closely with our state, local, tribal and territorial partners every day, supporting their efforts to help people with disabilities is prepared for disasters and emergencies. 

Every individual who has a disability has his or her life-sustaining plan just in case a disaster strikes. However, this simply cannot wait until just hours before, it must take place well in advance.  ADVERTISEMENT

People with disabilities often plan out their days in great detail. Arranging transit days in advance, scheduling personal care assistants, dealing with malfunctioning assistive technology and preparing meals made to specifications are just a few examples.

They know what they need to get through their day-to-day. Yet, when it comes to preparing for disaster, many of us are woefully uninformed and unprepared. Many may think, disasters will never impact them and may believe it costs too much to prepare. However, neither is true.  

The reality is, there are many things that people with disabilities can do to prepare for emergencies and disasters, and it does not have to be expensive. First and foremost, individual preparedness is the key.

After a disaster, help may not arrive for 48 to 72 hours, or even longer. That means you are personally accountable for your own well being those first few days, whether you stay at home or are ordered to evacuate by local officials. 

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