WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the east coast, those with disabilities living in the path of the storm may face difficult circumstances.
- FEMA says it's ready to help people with disabilities with Dorian
- Agency says those with disabilities may face difficult circumstances
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their partners are attempting to assist this vulnerable population before, during, and after the storm.
Currently, the agency is assessing the situation on the ground in areas already hit by the storm.
“There are disability organizations that are actively engaged all across Florida right now who are standing ready,” said Linda Mastandrea, FEMA Director for the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination.
Mastandrea said people with disabilities who were evacuated and are able to return home may face some unexpected hardships.
“Particular accessibility features of the home that are damaged or destroyed may take additional time and resources to repair,” she explained during an interview with Spectrum News inside FEMA Headquarters.
As Dorian crawls toward Georgia and the Carolinas over the next several days, FEMA officials say preparing early is key, especially because leaving home and changing routines can be particularly challenging for those with disabilities.
“If you’re a wheelchair user, you may want to think about bringing extra tires or tubes for your wheelchair. If you have diabetes, you need to bring your diabetes supplies. If you’re deaf maybe you need to bring batteries for hearing aids. If you have autism, you might want to think about noise canceling headphones if you’re heading into a shelter,” Mastandrea said.
For people managing a medical condition, filling prescriptions is key. In some cases, you may be able to refill them early.
"Talking with your physician, talking with your pharmacy, and getting an advance on your prescription if you can and then keeping that safe, so you can bring it with you,” she said.
FEMA has already deployed disability integration advisors to all of the impacted states to ensure programs and resources are accessible before during and after the storm.