Here at FEMA we emphasize the importance of including the whole community in disaster planning, response and recovery. This goes beyond engaging our counterparts at the federal, state, local and tribal levels – it also means including those groups who have traditionally been overlooked or labeled as “too difficult” to include in our emergency plans.
As Administrator Fugate says, emergency managers need to plan for the real, diverse makeup of our communities - and not just the easy scenarios. Here are a few highlights of our efforts to meet the needs of the whole community related to Hurricane Irene:
- Before Irene made landfall, Disability Integration Specialists were reaching out to independent living centers, protection and advocacy agencies and other disability advocacy groups to ensure close coordination as they prepared.
- Durable medical equipment and consumable medical supplies were prepositioned in distribution centers if states requested these resources to assist survivors to maintain health, safety and independence.
- We continue to coordinate with local and state disability services and advocacy groups, assisting with guidance on inclusive transition into recovery from Hurricane Irene’s impact.
- Representatives from the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination continue to staff the National Response Coordination Center around the clock to provide guidance to states on disability issues. These potential issues range from accessible transportation and general population shelter accommodation issues to emerging recovery issues.
As we continue our recovery efforts in states affected by Hurricane Irene, I also wanted to share a story about a family in Milford, Conn. who adequately prepared their home and family for a potential power outage from Hurricane Irene. They made sure to take precautions and have backup systems in place in case their home lost electricity, which could have adverse affects on their daughter’s mobility and means of communication as well as the needs of other family members.
And with the official kickoff to National Preparedness Month yesterday, I encourage you to take the first steps to be prepared for any disaster. Visit Ready.gov for more information on getting prepared.