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Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Hurricane Harvey: The Expected Impact on People with Disabilities
Utter devastation. The magnitude and relentlessness of Hurricane Harvey is beyond comprehension. The lives of millions of people have been turned upside down in Texas. Louisiana is now being drenched by Harvey. We watch roads turn into waterways while dismantled houses float upon them. Resident’s belongings are buried in the debris while they escape with just wet clothes clinging to their bodies. Everyone is grateful to the thousands of emergency response employees and volunteers who have extended themselves beyond imagination to rescue people they not yet know.
People with Disabilities Are Hit Hard During Disasters
The devastation is multiplied many times for people with disabilities. It is much more difficult for them to escape and to secure what they need. Many must risk waiting in their homes until they are rescued, Many need to access their medications and regular medical treatments. Many rely on hired personal care assistance services for getting dressed and going to the bathroom. History will inform us how effectively emergency management teams anticipated and addressed these issues.
People with disabilities are nervously anticipating what life will be like after the evacuation center. Will their modified homes still be intact? Where will anyone living on SSI or other low-income source and who lost property find affordable accessible housing? Will power wheelchairs left at home still exist and operate? Where will the replacements for damaged, lost, or stolen medical equipment come from? How quickly? How long will it take for public accessible transit systems to resume normal operation?
Organizations on the Frontlines
Anyone needing immediate assistance should contact 911 or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For help with recovery, go to DisasterAssistance.gov.
Disability Organizations Involved in Disaster Relief
Centers for Independent Living (CILs) throughout Texas and Louisiana are or will be the first or second points of contact for people with obvious or hidden disabilities whose lives have been torn asunder or otherwise disrupted by Harvey. The links to CIL directories for each state follow now:
Jewish Organizations Involved in Disaster Relief
The Jewish organizations listed immediately below are located in and continually serve local Jewish communities, specialize in disaster respose and / or are able to address the needs and concerns of Torah observant communities in affected areas.
Jewish Family Services in Houston
NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster
Agudath Israel of America
Orthodox Union and the Rabbinic Council of America
We, at Yad HaChazakah, are contacting the above mentioned Jewish organizations to ensure that they are aware of the unique concerns of people with disabilities and of the local centers for independent living that can serve as essential resources.
May everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey find comfort and recover completely and speedily.
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