Syracuse University

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BBI provides emergency preparedness guidance for people with disabilities in advance of Hurricane Irene

August 26, 2011

Anthony Adornato
(315) 443-6173

Applying lessons from emergency planning and response after Hurricane Katrina, in which the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University was involved, BBI is providing resources for the protection and safety of people with disabilities who live in the path of Hurricane Irene.

“BBI’s longstanding work in the area of disaster mitigation for people with disabilities is particularly timely,” says University Professor Peter Blanck, BBI chairman. A project of BBI, the Disability Business and Technical Assistance Center: Southeast ADA Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is one of 10 regional resource centers providing hurricane preparedness resources to employers, business, government and people with disabilities.

BBI researchers were involved in a post-Hurricane Katrina study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The study assessed impact on the lives of persons with disabilities post-Katrina, the effect of DOL assistance provided to people with disabilities, and possible lessons learned to help improve support to persons with disabilities before, during and after a disaster.

According to the study:

  • the Gulf Coast region was not prepared to evacuate, shelter, transport, or meet the medical needs of people with disabilities;
  • people with disabilities were not included in many state and/or local preparedness and evacuation plans in the Gulf Coast region;
  • the process to plan for response to a natural or man-made disaster in the Gulf Coast region did not include knowledge of this population, and/or other relevant nonprofit organizations;
  • there was a serious lack of coordination between federal and state government agencies and nonprofit organizations; and
  • shelters, transportation facilities and emergency communications and information broadcasts were frequently not accessible to people with disabilities.

Resources for the protection and safety of people with disabilities:

BBI/Southeast ADA Center: http://sedbtac.org/ada/publications/emergency_preparedness_resources.doc

Disaster Safety & Preparedness Guide for Seniors and People with Disabilities: http://www.nyredcross.org/?nd=disaster_safety_guide_for_seniors_and_people_with_disabilities

Preparedness: Tips for People with Special Needs: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/epr/Public/medneeds.pdf

Use of Social Media for Emergencies by People with Disabilities: http://www.wirelessrerc.org/publications/emergency-communications-and-people-with-disabilities/Survey%20Results-Social%20Media%20and%20EC.doc/view

Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing, and Human Services: http://www.fema.gov/oer/reference.

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