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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Coastal Storm Awareness

For most of my life when I think about what would happen to me in the event of natural disaster, plane crash, train wreck etc. one thing springs to mind: I am screwed. When I fly the flight crew will once in a while say something to me that "In the event of an emergency landing..." I typically give them a snarky look as we both know the odds of surviving an emergency landing are remote. The odds of me, a wheelchair user, surviving an emergency are even more remote. Some how I doubt flight crew or my fellow passengers will run into a burning plane to carry me out. Not a chance this will happen.

Today I believe my chances of surviving a natural disaster are increasing by the day. I can state this with some authority as I was lucky enough to be part of a group of scholars who worked on a Sea Grant Coastal Storm Awareness Program. The project that I specifically worked on concerned Hurricane  Sandy and why people in the NYC area weathered in place or rode out the storm. Almost all people with a disability stated the same thing: they had no where to go. The City of New York was sued and the Federal Court ruled that the city discriminated against people with a disability because it failed to consider them in plans for a large scale natural disaster. Link: http://dralegal.org/press/federal-judge-rules-new-york-citys-inadequate-disaster-plans-discriminate-against-hundreds-of-thousands-of-new-yorkers-with-disabilities/

Much has changed since Sandy. Emergency managers are not only listening but including disability issues into evacuations plans. How well this will work at present is unknown. What I do know is that emergency planners are very much aware and concerned all people are evacuated. By itself, this is a huge leap forward. Below is a short documentary about our work.


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