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Diasabled in Disasters

In Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, International Public Health, US Politics on June 7, 2006 at 3:17 pm

GovExec recently reported that the Departmentof Homeland Security’s Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals With Disabilities plans to establish a “disasbility section” in the disaster headquarters. Here is a recent testimony from the head of this DHS Council, Daniel Sutherland, briefly discussing the obstacles people with disabilities can face in times of disaster. He states that about 250,000 people in the hurricane affected areas were disabled, including:

“Twenty-five thousand people stated that they had vision or hearing impairments. Over 100,000 people stated that they had a physical disability that made it difficult to walk, climb stairs, lift, dress, bath or even get around inside their own home. Almost 65,000 people were categorized as having a “mental disability” – a category which would include people with Alzheimers, people with cognitive disabilities, and some of the few who would self-identify as a person with mental illness.”

With hurricane season a week in, let us not lose sight that those most vulnerable, those on the front line with the greatest vulnerabilities, are the first to be afforded additional defences and resources from any future disaster.

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