We Are Reminded of All That’s Left to Do
The past two weeks have been filled with stories of remembrance. We have shared stories of incredible heroism and bravery and have recalled the great horror and tragedy of the attacks in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. While memories of 9/11 are center stage early in September, the month also marks Emergency Preparedness Month, a time for all of us to think ahead should human-made or natural disasters strike our communities in the future.
For UCP, we have marveled at the ingenuity of our affiliates across the nation, who have braved earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados, and have ensured that the people with disabilities that they serve are not forgotten in the panic that can often follow these events. We hope you’ll take a look at our feature of one of our affiliates in Alabama, who has weathered more than a few natural disasters this past year, always putting people first. And we hope that this month is a clarion call to all of us to better prepare for emergencies in our own communities and throughout the nation. We also hope you’ll review the information below on tips and thoughts to consider when preparing for a potential emergency.
9/11 is forever etched in our nation’s collective soul as a time of great tragedy and terror, but also a time when the best of our people shined through, putting others ahead of self.
9/11 is also National Day of Service and Remembrance. Find out how you can give back to your community at United We Serve.
National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month. The awareness month is designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for, and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.
Individuals with disabilities often are disproportionately impacted during times of disaster. A variety of barriers may already exist such as lack of transportation and inaccessible buildings, and other barriers are either created or exacerbated by the disaster itself. Effective and inclusive evacuation, sheltering, and other response and recovery activities are critical.
People with disabilities who are self-sufficient under regular circumstances may have to rely on the help of others in an emergency situation. They may need more time than others to make necessary preparations for an emergency. Arrangements need to be made for service animals and necessary medical equipment.
Inclusive disaster relief planning and services for people with disabilities is a Civil Rights Issue. This is crucial to ensure fair and full citizenship for people with disabilities.
Emergency and Disaster Resources for People with Disabilities
UCP Affiliate Emergency Efforts
UCP of Greater BIrmingham quickly mobilized to assist people with disabilities impacted by the April, 2011 tornado outbreak and served in a key role on the Alabama Interagency Emergency Response Coordinating Committee. Members effectively communicated needs of residents of local communities and shared recovery resources. Minutes of daily conference calls including action steps were disseminated to agencies who serve individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses and disability advocates throughout Alabama. They are also involved with the Jefferson County Disability Alert System which helps emergency management agencies locate people with disabilities in times of emergencies.
UCP of Mobile developed a Task Force of community service providers in 2008 to address the need for a shelter during disasters for people with severe disabilities and complex medical needs. The efforts of the Task force, along with support from Red Cross, the State Defense Force and the local Medical Reserve Corp, resulted in a shelter being available for this population. UCP of Mobile gathered all the adaptive equipment necessary for the shelter, and wrote the Operations Guide manual for shelter personnel. Also through UCP of Mobile’s advocacy, a staff person from the agency will have a seat in the Emergency Operations Center during a disaster, to represent and assist with the needs of people with disabilities.
UCP of Mobile also assists citizens who call and need to complete registration for the Special Needs Registry. This Registry gathers information on people with disabilities, and uses the information to guide people with disabilities to the appropriate shelter in their area, and also assists with arrangements for specialized transportation and other needs.
UCP Affiliates across Alabama formed the ALtogether Disaster Relief Fund for Disabilities following the 2011 tornadoes to help raise money for medical equipment and basic human needs.
Share Your Stories
Have you or a family member with a disability been impacted by a disaster? UCP wants to hear your story.
Share your story and/or photo with us for potential highlight on our websites, social media properties and publications.
Email your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org