The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confessed on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 that it does not have an emergency plan in place for those who have special needs, including those who are elderly, disabled and institutionalized. In their defense, officials stated it too difficult for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination to create a rescue plan effectively with a $150,000 budget and four people on staff.
The Miami Herald reports, “Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif…said the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 improved emergency preparedness by directing FEMA to appoint a Disability Coordinator, but she added that the disability office’s meager funding has restricted its ability to perform well.”
In an attempt to address this issue, FEMA has suggested creating a list of individuals with special needs;. However, many feel this answer is ineffective and creates a false sense of security, as officials must consider when the next disaster may strike, not when. Instead, Marcie Roth, director of the disability office, states citizens need to take more responsibility and community-wide emergency trainings should be implemented.
There is an obvious need to provide resources to those with special needs, which FEMA acknowledges is a matter of life or death. To help with this cause, the RAND Corporation has published Enhancing Public Health Emergency Preparedness for Special Needs Populations: A Toolkit for State and Local Planning and Response.