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Monday, September 26, 2011

Postscript to Hurrcane Irene and Failure in Emergency Disability Planning

Hi Again:

In my last post, I described my individual experiences and the unmistakeable reality that while experiencing the devastating onslaught of Hurricane Irene at the end of August, there were literally no other viable option left but to remain in my apartment after being alerted to the fact that no accessible accommodations were available for people with disabilities under the auspices of the New York City's Office of Emergency Management within the Bloomberg administration.

According to the latest Facebook posting by Susan Dooha, Executive Director of CIDNY(Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York - an advocacy agency:

"Major disasters in New York City such as the September 11th terrorist attack and more recently Hurricane Irene, have shown that the city is not prepared to meet the needs of people with disabilities during disasters. A lawsuit filed today in Federal District Court alleges that the City of New York discriminates against men, women, and children with disabilities by failing to include their unique needs in emergency planning."

This means that by virtue of pure negligence, the federally-run agency within the city boundaries failed to include its citizens with disabilities in the planning and implementation process therefore violating the equal access provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also put that segment of the population at a greater than chance probability of health risks or injury that's disaster- related. Simply making it mandatory that a person with a disability be accompanied by a hired personal assistant as a precondition for acceptance into an emergency shelter is not sufficient to address the need for adequate temporary shelter. There are usually extenuating circumstances pertinent to each individual with a disability.

Unless these factors are taken into account and facilitated through honest and thorough communication between OEM and the disability community, such missteps are bound o occur. Let's hope and trust it does not happen again the next time a disaster strikes.

1 comment:

  1. your articles are so well written you should become a regular column writer for the NYTimes

    ReplyDelete