"Even with the best warning notification systems and strategic plans, people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted during natural disasters."

Alice Wong, from the Disability Visibility Project, has written a link-rich article on the California wildfires, titled, "In California Wildfires, Disabled People May Be Left Behind."

From the article:

"Even with the best warning notification systems and strategic plans, people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted during natural disasters. Here are a few examples of the challenges and systemic failures disability communities faced, taken from a report assessing federally declared disasters between August 2017 and January 2018:

  • People in nursing homes and other institutions were not evacuated
  • Lack of equal access to shelters with some people being turned away due to their needs
  • Delays or failures in providing critical information in accessible formats (e.g., texts, video relay, video captions, sign language interpreters, plain language)
  • Gaps in access to food, water, and other forms of assistance
  • Lack of adequate health care, services, and equipment such as oxygen, dialysis, and durable medical equipment
  • Difficulties applying and receiving assistance from FEMA
  • People being unnecessarily institutionalized due to lack of housing options, disruption in community-based services, or problems navigating the system."

...and

"Climate change is real. Frequent natural disasters are the new normal. Right now, disabled advocates are working with communities all over the state connecting them to the help they need. Community organizations and informal networks need support coordinating services and providing direct assistance. Our lives are at stake and thoughts and prayers are not enough. Below are some ways you can support people with disabilities and the general population during these wildfires and the ones to come in the near future.

5 ways to support

  1. Ability Tools is a program of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, providing medical equipment, daily living aids, and technology to people in shelters who need them. They are currently taking donations, and you can contact them via Facebook or by calling 1-800-390-2699 (1-800-900-0706 TTY). Support them by donating money or equipment in good condition.
  2. Donate to the Portlight Strategies/Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, a national organization on disability rights, accessibility and inclusion related to disaster operations. It manages a 24-hour disaster hotline for for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs (1-800-626-4959 or info@disasterstrategy.org)
  3. Give money to Mask Oakland, a volunteer group of queer disabled people delivering free N95 respirator masks to Oakland’s most vulnerable. They use donations to buy more masks and post receipts of all their purchases. Twitter: @MaskOakland; Venmo: @maskoakland.
  4. Donate to the Northern California Fire Relief Fund by the North Valley Community Foundation to raise money to support the operations of organizations sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire.
  5. Give to Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program from the California Fire Foundation, which gives $100 gift cards to people impacted by wildfires including firefighters and civilians.

You can also check out this list of resources and articles to learn more."

To read the article in full, go to this link.