The Coastal Star

Special needs planning for hurricane evacuation

By Mary Thurwachter

People with physical, medical or other disabilities, as well as the elderly, need to plan for their safety during a storm like anyone else. But their needs may call for more detailed planning and entail friends, family, neighbors and health care attendants.
“You can go online and sign up if you need help with transportation, or to reserve a bed,” said Manalapan Police Chief Clay Walker. “Our residents are gone during hurricane season and we deal with property managers. We have no one on our list (asking for special needs help).” Occupancy is only 15 percent this time of year.
In Gulf Stream, Police Chief Garrett Ward said his department maintains a list of people with special needs. “We check with them to make sure they have arrangements.” But there aren’t many on the list.
In Ocean Ridge, Lt. Chris Yannuzzi said his department doesn’t make arrangements for those with special needs other than to tell residents to make plans early. “It’s up to residents to make plans,” he said.
If there are evacuations, some shelters will be available for people with special needs. To reserve, call (561) 712-6400.
Residents with special needs should assemble a disaster kit with a collection of necessary items ranging from extra batteries for hearing aids and wheelchairs to medicines and medical devices. If they have a service animal, they should keep them on a leash or harness because they may become frightened or disoriented.
The American Red Cross pamphlet Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities can be found online at www.prepare.org/disabilities/disabilities.htm.
An ADA guide for local governments, Making Community Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs Accessible to People with Disabilities, is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/emergencyprep.htm.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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