Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

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Texas Pirate

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:41 am

Thanks to the moderators and friends for encouraging me to bring this blog back again.
It's been awhile. But its nice to find my way back home.
I was/am dedicated to educating and empowering the community to learn HOW to be safe.
I'll give you the information, but YOU got the POWER to save yourself.

Little did I know that during that summer of 2008, putting up this blog, we would be hit in September, by Ike.
I received lovely emails from families who took the advice given in the blog at the time,
and gratefully came through the storm. But there were other horror stories. We learned
a lot since then. And we will continue to learn, hopefully, with this blog. But I can't do it alone.
We all need to step up and care for each other in the disability community.

After Ike, I was blessed to receive over $300,000 worth of medical supplies and wheelchairs
from wx friends from around the U.S. and especially from a wonderful organization, Portlight, out in S.C.
Friends from all over the US, gathered in my stricken area, and we began to distribute
wheelchairs and other medical supplies to Harris, Galveston, Chambers, Orange Counties.
Did I get in trouble - you betcha. Did we care? No, we're rogue pirates :o
But, I learned a valuable lesson.

I became RED CROSS DAT trained, NIMS (FEMA), CERT certified, Skywarn (did I tell you I am a weather geek)
I help evacuate the disabled in this area. I was a Commissioner on the City of Houston Commission for People with Disabilities
(2 years), chair: emergency preparedness. I run an inclusive theater. Trust me, I'm dedicated to this community and want to
continue to keep y'all safe.

So, now what? So far, its a quiet summer. But we need to be prepared ALL year round for
whatever "come what may".... This blog will begin a dialogue with those in the disability community
or their caretakers and also stakeholders. Hopefully, information given, and exchanged will
help everyone.

I'm in. Hopefully you will be too.
Thanks again for the moderators and all my dear weather friends who allow me this platform.

"Because you're disabled, you don't have to be a victim."
Lets stay weather safe.
Thats my mantra for you all.
♥ Lets begin the dialogue....

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Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by srainhoutx » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:46 am

Welcome back, Texas Pirate. Your post is now a 'sticky' and appears at the top of the page of our Weather Forum...;)
Carla/Alicia/Jerry(In The Eye)/Michelle/Charley/Ivan/Dennis/Katrina/Rita/Wilma/Humberto/Ike/Harvey

Member: National Weather Association
Facebook.com/Weather Infinity
Twitter @WeatherInfinity

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Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Katdaddy » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:18 am

Yes welcome back, Texas Pirate. This will be excellent information. We are glad you are back.

Texas Pirate

Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:15 pm

Thanks for the lovely welcome. And perhaps, right in time for our next "I" storm, "Isaac" if 94L does
come to that.

We also have something we're watching in the Bay of Campeche right now. Pretty close to home, yes?

I want to begin with the topic of "Evacuation". This seems to be the driving force (no pun intended)
with every talk I give to disability organizations. Questions such as "Should I evacuate?" "Where should I go?"
" I want to stay in my home, where I have everything, will someone just get me if I get into trouble with the weather.?"
"I dont want to leave my service dog behind."

Let me begin with this. Even in the non-disabled community, I run into many who, even in a mandatory evacuation zone, that proudly boast:
"Well my Great Uncle Billy Bubba survived the great storm of 1900." YAY for your Great Uncle Billy Bubba!!!...But up to 10,000 didn't. And well, do you think they REALLY kept stats on people with disabilities back in the day? So we don't know how many we truly lost. Let me take a WILD unscientitic guess..." a whole bunch". We can turn to a more recent hurricane, "Katrina" to verify that "too many" people with disabilities died.

So Should you evacuate?
Answer: If you're in a mandatory evacuation zone, GO.
You might want to protect your home, but what if, it can't protect you?
It would be too late to call on a friend or family member to rescue you
and emergency personnel (GOD BLESS THEM ALL) might not get to you.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CALVARY anymore. Sorry, them horses left a long time ago.
YOU need to have a plan to leave. Even if you are in a non-surge zone, but feel safer leaving
try and find a place to go.

YOU AND OR YOUR CAREGIVERS KNOW YOUR DISABILITY better than anyone. Better than your doctors, your sweet neighbors and certainly better than some stranger in the grocery line ready to give you the up to the minute
weather report that he/she THINKS is going to happen. YOU are in control. YOU know what you NEED. YOU got the plan.
Ask yourself: Do I or a loved one depend on electricity? For an electric chair? For meds? For breathing equipment?
If my roof does cave in, where would I go? Do I live alone and could I sustain an independant lifestyle if something were to happen?

This did happen to a friend of mine. She lives alone and a wheelchair user. She was TOLD that she was in a non-surge
zone. She told the 211 people she needed to leave. She didn't feel safe alone. They told her she was safe. She immedidately called her parents and they came and got her. Ike hit. Her roof fell in onto her kitchen area. No access to the kitchen, food, water, any supplies. She did the right thing. She knew she had to leave because she knew the limitations she would face, if something happened...and IT DID. Her plan was to call parents. She was lucky. I'm really not here to scare ya, I'm here to prepare ya and make you THINK.

Not saying EVERYONE with a disability needs to leave. I'm saying if YOU KNOW what you need to survive and staying put (outside the mandatory evac zones) is doable, you have your meds, your food, water, etc, by all means "hunker down" (Did I tell you how much I dislike that term?) :x

My suggestion is the following: when you create your plan (and this should be done in early Spring)
think through what you truly need. Call family members or friends BEFORE the NHC puts up those chilling words
" Hurricane Gusty is prepared to make landfall in the Houston/Galveston area. Preparation to saving lives and property
should be rushed to completion". Bingo, you're out of time, friends. At this point, YOU got the plan and you're ready to IMPLEMENT them.

If you cant find a friend/family member to take you in, by all means leave at the Bus HUB zones to get you out.
Your destination: San Antonio or Austin..whats wrong with that :-)
(Those living in the mandatory low lying areas either board in Texas City, Galveston, Pasadena- I'll put out the info for you)
IF you choose to do this, you MUST register. 211. Yeah, I know the ups and downs of this - and I'm sure you could share your stories too. However, its a start. You also need to register with your OEM (Office of Emergency Preparedness) in your city.
By registering, they have a count of how many may show up to the departure party. Think of it as an RSVP kinda thing.
You dont want to crash the party and be booted off the bus :-)

Do it now. Today. Actually last Spring would be have been ideal - but I'll get ya up to speed.

TEXAS IS A PET FRIENDLY SHELTER STATE. Dont make me say this twice.

So what did we learn? You got the power and if you NEED power, you will make plans to leave.
WIth family or friends or if need be, shelter somewhere away from the storm.

For my friends in the deaf community, FEMA.gov has emergency information in ASL! Please check it out.
Let me say, Texas leads the nation in emergency preparedness. There are SO many good people working
it for the disability community, but like I said, YOU have to educate and empower yourselves.
Prepare today. Panicking leads to mistakes and could be hazardous to your health.

I hope this information is helpful. Open to discussion. Thank you. :D
If you really need some help, message me.

"because you are disabled, you don't have to be a victim." ™

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Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Stormrider » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:22 am

Welcome back, Texas Pirate. Thanks for bringing this topic to the table.

I evaced my then 82 year old, oxygen dependent father during Rita. We were supposed to go to Palestine. 26 hours of driving later, we ended up in Huntsville. Gas and shelter was hard to come by. Thankfully, a local church operating as a Red Cross shelter took us in. By the time Ike came along, his health was such that he needed dedicated care. His health provider had him sign up for evacuation, and he was taken out by ambulance, first to Houston then to San Antonio.

This past February, my dad made the ultimate evacuation. He's looking down at all the tropical action now.

A few offhand thoughts: Particularly with people who need life-support equipment like oxygen tanks and concentrators, having backups (extra tanks, alternate power) are a must. If you have someone in a nursing facility, find out its emergency plan is. Does the facility have backup power? Where will patients go if an evacuation is ordered? Is there a contact point if there is an evacuation?

I hope others will share their experiences and expertise on this subject. Again, thanks for getting the ball rolling.

Texas Pirate

Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:30 am

Good morning Stormrider - First off, I'm sorry about your Dad, condolenses. Secondly, thanks for responding and sharing your story.

Rita, wow. For those of us who lived through it, the evacuation was the Cat 5 nightmare. However, good things DID come out of it - especially for preparedness for the disabled. Cuz, I promise you, that evac disaster will never happen again. Chills me to the bone to think of 1-10. :cry:

And the point you bring you up is excellent. Assisted Living Care/Nursing Homes and Emergency Plans. We fail on that one. Getting better, but we still got a long way to go. IMHO
My step Mother lived in one up the street from me. She lived alone. I got her out, sent to her to friends home in Waco.
However, there were many residents who were left behind. No one to care for them, plan for them, or connected them to evacuation hubs. We are in a low lying area. They were left with no power, very little food and ran out of water.
If we care for our loved ones, part of that love is making sure the place they live HAS a plan. DONT BE AFRAID to ask and DONT BE AFRAID to have them SHOW YOU the plans. If not, CALL someone either with the City (OEM) or non profit organizations to come out and help them plan or a time when all the residents can gather together and LEARN how to empower themselves with a speaker.

As I stated above in the opening topic of EVACUATION: If you are dependant on electricity for LIFE,no matter if you stay or leave: Make sure you have all the mechinisms you need to carry on and survive. Generators, batteries, etc etc. YOU know your disability better than anyone else.

Thank you Stormrider for kicking off this conversation! Appreciate it. Hope this helped.

Stormriders suggestions: A few offhand thoughts: Particularly with people who need life-support equipment like oxygen tanks and concentrators, having backups (extra tanks, alternate power) are a must. If you have someone in a nursing facility, find out its emergency plan is. Does the facility have backup power? Where will patients go if an evacuation is ordered? Is there a contact point if there is an evacuation
"Because you're disabled, you don't have to be a victim"™
Last edited by Texas Pirate on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by rnmm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:51 am

I am a mother of a chronically ill child who requires breathing treatments on a regular basis and the grand daughter of a very sweet grandmother who requires occasional oxygen therapy, she is also on a feeding tube...

Please note, I understand my family members are not disabled as some of your clients are Emmy, but maybe I can help bring to light some useful information/gadgets that can be of great use during an evacuation?!?!?

For my son, we do have a nebulizer that will run off the ac adapter in our car. This has proven to be a very special piece of equipment! I always make sure it is charged and ready to go! This way he can always have his treatments no matter where we are. I do take his full sized nebulizer with us when we evacuate, but he cannot use that in a car and during Rita, he used his travel neb much more than I would have liked for him to have to. But I am telling you guys, this little contraption was a life saver...literally! They are not too expensive and in fact, our insurance company covered the expense for ours! It is very easy to put together and it is very easy to use...in other words very user friendly! If anyone you know has to have neb treatments, I highly suggest getting one of these, even if you don't use it during an evacuation, you have it for any other time you may lose electricity. I also put all of his and my grandmothers meds that have to be refrigerated in an insulated lunch bag and then place them in the cooler, that way they don't get too cold but stay at a proper temperature!

For my grandmother, seeing as we have to crush her meds to put them through the feeding tube, if it comes to an evacuation for our area, I crush her pills in advance and put them in a labeled sandwich bag, that way they are ready to go and if I have to, I can give them to her "on the road". I also make sure I have everything I need to keep her peg site clean and as germ free as I possibly can while on the road. We have a travel size oxygen tank and I also carry extra tubing in case I need it to be longer or shorter.

I don't know if anything I added helps or even makes sense to be in a topic for disabled folks, but I hope it brought to light a little something helpful for someone.
My name is Nicole and I love weather!!
Alicia, Allison, Rita, Ike

Texas Pirate

Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:59 am

Nicole! thank you...every bit of information helps. Every bit.
You see I had no idea the nebs, such as you explained, existed - I do now and I'm sure (hopefully) many reading this will
stay ALIVE because you brought this to our attention. Wonderful.

When we turn to the topic: SUPPLIES ON THE RUN: I will add your idea...wonderful and thank you for all
those fabulous wx chats! :D

Nicoles in put: we do have a nebulizer that will run off the ac adapter in our car

"because your disabled, you don't have to be a victim" ™

Texas Pirate

Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:35 pm

Going to digress a bit before returning to EVACUATION/and making a plan

Here is something that is important NOW and will affect all of us.
Please read and pass this along.
ASL link is provided before for our friends in the deaf community.
WEST NILE is rampant in our State. Please take care.
"because your disabled, you don't have to be a victim" ™

Office of the Governor Rick Perry
Committee on People with Disabilities

The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services has partnered with the Department of State Health Services and Department of Aging and Disability Services to produce two American Sign Language videos about West Nile Virus Prevention measures.

The Texas Department of State Health Services urges people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito borne illness. People should use insect repellent when outdoors and avoid going outside at dusk and dawn. There has been a higher than usual number of human West Nile cases in Texas this year due to the warm winter and recent rains, particularly in the North Texas region.

Additional West Nile Virus information can be found at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/diseas ... /WestNile/ and http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/TxWestNile/PSAs/.

This link takes you to videos in American Sign Language http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/TxWestNile/ASLs/


The Department of State Health Services has asked Health and Human Service agencies to disseminate the following messages:


Take the following precautions:
•Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
•Regularly drain standing water, including water that collects in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters, and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
•Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
•Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
•Texans who are elderly and those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to developing West Nile illness if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
•There is no effective treatment for West Nile Virus illnesses, so it’s important to prevent mosquito bites.

•Help neighbors who are elderly, have disabilities or access and functional needs to repair their windows or door screens to keep mosquitoes out and with other precautions to reduce their risk of becoming ill.
•Also remember other Texans with access or functional needs in your communities who may need assistance in reducing their risk of illness.

•The majority of Dallas county areas are performing enhanced ground-based spraying.
•There will be aerial spraying over a large area of Dallas County during the next few days.
•Aerial spraying is a very effective and safe way to kill adult mosquitoes in large, densely populated areas.
•We understand that many people have concerns about exposure during aerial spraying; for those people, health officials suggest the following precautions:
•Minimize exposure. Avoid being outside, close windows, and consider keeping pets inside while spraying occurs.
•If skin or clothes are exposed, wash them with soap and water.
•Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables with water as a general precautionary measure.
•Cover small ornamental fish ponds.

Because the chemical breaks down quickly in sunlight and water, no special precautions are suggested for outdoor swimming areas

Texas Pirate

Re: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Post by Texas Pirate » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:34 pm

We have Isaac about to enter the Carib and perhaps the Gulf of Mexico in the next couple of days.
Weather models have it going anywhere from FLORIDA to NEW ORLEANS.
Although NOT a threat to Texas, lets use ISAAC as an example of what we do if we WERE facing this
threat. And I truly hope those in the disability communities are monitoring this potential storm.

At this point, we would be aware and would be monitoring the situation.
We already have our plan in place that we worked on in the Spring:
We would take it out and go over the plans with family/caregiver.

You have decided that

a) You live in a low lying mandatory evacuation area and have to leave.
You know your disability better than anyone else and staying would NOT give you the
independant crisis-free lifestyle you live. Or perhaps you need electricity to survive.
You have already decided that you will spend time with family and or friends to "ride" this storm out.
You call the people and tell them "hey guess who's coming to dinner...for a while". Kind of a heads up
this may be coming our way and I will want to stay out of the area.


b) You have registered with 211 and your local Office of Emergency Management and you have
the Location of the evacuation hub for you area (please see the information below)
Sheltering is NOT the Hilton. We all agree. But if its the last resort and YOU want to survive
it can be a haven of sorts. You will bring the supplies to make it as comfy as possible.
(Supplies another thread later)


c) You are not in the "flooding zone- surge area" and feel you have the right equipment to
maintain the lifestyle. You know your disability better than anyone else. OR you might
want to leave and stay with friends/families until you can return home.

As we monitor the weather and it has been decided by the NHC and our local NWS that
the storm is headed this way: weather statements will start coming out. The first would be a
hurricane watch - this means that conditions are ripe. "A watch is typically issued 48 hours BEFORE
the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm force winds" (NHC)

If you decide to leave: you have all your important papers/meds/other supplies you need to sustain
You are ready to roll.....

Tidbit facts:

During Katrina, 71% of those killed were over 60 and 41% were over 75.
You must plan PRIOR to a storm coming into the Gulf of Mexico.

If you plan ahead, you don't panic. Panicking is hazardous to your health!!!

Information on Evacuation Hubs in LOW LYING AREAS:

"The Department of Transportation (DOT) is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of emergency preparedness
in the event of a disaster. During an emergency, person with disabilities may require (1) additional assistance with
evaucation and (2) Using transportation to get to a safe place. This is YOUR RIGHT, but you must take the first step
and register with 211 or call your local OEM and let them KNOW you need assistance.

Galveston Evaucation Assistance:
Islanders with transportation needs or special needs should register with the City Evacuation Assistance Program.
There is NO eligibility requirements and the program is FREE to the public. To sign up for evacuation assistance, please
call (409) 621.3179- CityofGalveston.gov

Bay Area: Seabrook, Nassau Bay, El Lago, Webster
Pasadena Convention Center - 7902 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, Texas
Please register with your local OEM.

Galveston County Evaucation Assistance
Doyle Center - 2010 5th Ave: Texas City

Please write this information down. Keep it in a safe place. It should be with your overall PLAN.

"because your disabled, you dont' have to be a victim>™

I hope this information is helpful. :D

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