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September 9, 2018
 
Extreme Weather Update
 
Dear Friends,

We are watching several hurricanes very closely and ask that you join us to make sure that people with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs are squarely at the center of all planning and throughout disaster response and recovery, if any of these hurricanes/typhoons makes landfall.

Currently, we are watching:

Florence- East Coast
Olivia-Hawaii
Mangkhut-Guam
Helene-Atlantic
Isaac-Atlantic


In the words of our friend and Weather Underground founder, Jeff Masters, “If you live in a hurricane-prone location, now is a good time to make sure you have a preparedness plan in place! This is the craziest peak week of hurricane season I’ve ever experienced!” His most current blog warns, “Florence is likely to make landfall on Thursday evening or Friday morning on the Southeast U.S. East Coast, or remain just offshore. The odds have increased that Florence will stall on Friday and meander near or over the coast for several days, making the hurricane a huge rainfall and coastal flooding threat.” https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Hurricane-Florence-Expected-Rapidly-Intensify-Serious-Rainfall-Threat-US-East-Coast

Given all of this potential for extreme weather, and the lack of disaster preparedness progress made by government planners since last year’s hurricanes and wildfires, Portlight and the Partnership are readying our Disaster Hotline, our deployment teams, our assistance for distributing medical equipment and supplies and assistive devices, guiding and participating in disaster policy initiatives and especially supporting local leaders and collaborating with stakeholders.We plan to move from weekly stakeholder calls to daily calls later this week if needed.

The Government Accountability Office recently reported that “more than half of the workers FEMA was deploying to last year’s disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field”.

FEMA has also made it well known that they no longer plan to provide more than a handful of qualified disability integration advisors as a part of their support to states requesting assistance in disasters, opting instead to use generalists to meet their obligations to provide equal access to their programs and services. Additionally, FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination recently informed local and state disability organizations that they “will not be hosting or engaging in national level disability stakeholder calls” until local and state disability organizations exceed their capacity to meet the needs of disaster impacted individuals with disabilities, at which point they “may reach to national disability organizations for additional assistance.”

We are committed to optimizing outcomes for disaster impacted children and adults with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs despite inadequate planning, non-compliance with civil rights obligations, a lack of collaboration and limited government investments in supporting local disability organizations and service providers. We will continue to offer our support, resources and expertise to FEMA and all emergency managers and welcome every opportunity to work together in support of disaster impacted individuals and communities. We will not wait for local and state partners seeking our help to fail before stepping in. Our work is ALWAYS in support of local leadership and our resources are ALWAYS invested in supporting their capacity to meet the needs of their community.

Please continue to support our efforts throughout the 2018 hurricane season and the many other hazards our communities face all throughout the year. More than ever, we need your help. Visit us at www.portlight.org and www.disasterstrategies.org to make your donation via PayPal. You can also send your support to us at PO Box 14109 Charleston, SC 29422.

We appreciate your partnership and your generosity!

Sincerely,

Paul Timmons and Marcie Roth​
 
HOTLINE: (800) 626-4959