How People with Disabilities and Medical Needs can take Action Before and After a Hurricane

Release Date

People may face different challenges during a disaster, depending on their individual circumstances. As we recover from Hurricane Ian, there are some actions people with disabilities and older adults with medical conditions can take to care for their unique needs.

If you know someone who lives in your community that might need this information but is experiencing a power outage, it’s a good idea to check on them if safe to do so. If you are not nearby and suspect they were not evacuated, notify authorities of the need to do welfare checks on them as soon as possible.

During and After a Disaster

If you are able, take these actions immediately.

Reach out

As soon as possible, contact friends and/or family members and let someone know where you’re located and the state of your health. 

Assess your needs

Determine if your treating physician needs to be notified of any new injuries or acute care needs for existing conditions. While immediate treatment is important, care coordination and medical history also need to be considered.

Be aware of risks

Take steps to keep germ and infection risks to a minimum in community settings, especially when providers/caregivers are handling catheters, syringes, food or any item with which you may come in contact. Remember COVID-19 is still a risk.

Apply for assistance

If you are a Hurricane Ian Florida survivor living in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, you can apply for federal assistance at, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or by using the FEMA App. Survivors using an assistive service, such as a video relay service, captioned telephone service or others, can give the FEMA operator the number for that service.

Register on if you are a resident of Florida who needs assistance because you:

  • Rely on electricity to operate medical equipment.
  • Need transport services to evacuate due to a medical condition.
  • Require help getting medication during a disaster.

Before a Disaster

People with disabilities and older adults who are still in the path of Hurricane Ian – or want to be ready in case of future disasters – can still take steps to prepare. Here are some actions you can take:

  • Create a support network. Keep a contact list of those who can help you in a disaster. Store it in a watertight container in your emergency kit or on your electronic devices
  • Have additional power sources. Make sure you have a charger with your electronic devices; a portable charger is ideal.
  • Plan for accessible transportation. With enough advanced notice, plan ahead for accessible transportation you may need for evacuation or getting around during or after disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with your emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options. If you don’t have time to plan ahead, go to to find the latest on available accessible transportation options. 
  • Reach out to local emergency officials. Contact your local emergency management office to find out if your city or county maintains voluntary registries for people with disabilities to self-identify to receive targeted assistance during emergencies and disasters.
  • Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and other medications. Consult with your physician to find out the best ways to get refills from alternative locations.
  • Plan for chaotic environments. Have a plan for children and adults who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments and be prepared to educate first responders on these unique needs.
  • Consider your service or support animal. You will need to plan for food, water and supplies for your service or support animal. You may have to educate other shelter residents and staff on the important role your animal plays to support you.
  • Know your preferred medical facilities. Keep a list of several preferred medical facilities and hospitals to have options for care after a disaster.

For more information on how people with disabilities can prepare for a disaster, visit

Last updated