Hurricane Dorian Update #3

9/6/19

US AND BAHAMAS HURRICANE DORIAN URGENT UPDATE – HOW YOU CAN HELP HURRICANE SURVIVORS WITH DISABILITIES

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Portlight Strategies and the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies are supporting the needs of Hurricane Dorian impacted people with disabilities and disability organizations as the hurricane continues to have a massive effect on millions of people from the Bahamas to North Carolina.

We continue to convene daily National Stakeholder Disaster Response Partners, including disability and disaster experts, community leaders, emergency managers, first responders, public health, government and non-government organizations and our allies for teleconferences, planning sessions, advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities and state-led initiatives in Dorian’s path throughout each day.

Our Disaster Hotline, 1-800-626-4959, has been assisting callers with disability related evacuation, transportation, sheltering, disability equipment and supplies, health maintenance, and accessible communication needs and navigating complex and inaccessible disaster related government programs and services.

Our Disability Access Response Team (DART) and our disability and medical equipment and supply resources are immediately available to all disaster impacted people with disabilities and disability organizations reaching out to us for assistance.

As Dorian finally moves out to sea, we are focusing on the life-sustaining needs of hurricane survivors with disabilities in North Carolina and the Bahamas. Along with our close partners, Triton Relief, Trach Mommas and the National Council on Independent Living, we have launched our disability focused response on getting critically needed disability supplies to our partners on the ground.

We are very grateful to have restored communication with our Bahamas partner 242 Disability Organization, a Disabled Persons Organization providing direct services to people with disabilities on the islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini and the other islands within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We are learning from them about the horrific impact of the hurricane on all Bahamians and especially the disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. We have also received a list of urgently needed disability related health and hygiene supplies.

We need your support more than ever!

Many of our supporters have asked how you can help support our work in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina AND in the Bahamas.

Here is what we need right now:

Financial assistance, donations of health and disability items that can be delivered to the people who most need them, and introductions to corporate and humanitarian relief initiatives underway, to ensure that people with disabilities have a real chance to benefit from their assistance.

We are focused on people who:

>can’t reach central distribution points due to debris, loss of mobility equipment, stamina and deteriorating health

>don’t hear instructions through bullhorns, or don’t understand what they are supposed to do to get help

>don’t need acute medical care, but do need disability assistance, health, and medical supplies to maintain their health, safety, and independence

>may be left behind when resources are scarcemay be stigmatized or marginalized when triage decisions are being made about limited resources.

If you would prefer to send your support via USPS mail, please use our mailing address:

P.O. Box 14109, Charleston, SC 29422

9/2/19

Portlight and the Partnership are working around the clock to provide assistance to people with disabilities and disability organizations in the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina as we all brace for Hurricane Dorian’s catastrophic impact over the next week and its aftermath for months and years to come.

We have been convening daily National Stakeholder Disaster Response Partners, including disability and disaster experts, community leaders, first responders, public health, government and non-government organizations and our allies for teleconferences, planning sessions, advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities and state-led initiatives in Dorian’s path throughout each day.

Our Disaster Hotline, 1-800-626-4959, has been assisting callers with disabilities in Florida and South Carolina who have been trying to prepare for evacuation and sheltering but are learning that state plans are not in place to accommodate their disability, access, and functional needs.

Our Disability Assistance Response Team (DART) and our disability and medical equipment and supply resources are immediately available to all disaster impacted people with disabilities and disability organizations reaching out to us for assistance.

One of our newest partners is “242 Disability Organization” serving people with disabilities on the islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini and the other islands within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We are working together to assist Bahamians with disabilities and older adults throughout the catastrophic impact and aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

We need your support more than ever!

Please support:

Our 24/7 Disaster Hotline

Deployment of our Disability Assistance Response Team to the Bahamas and Dorian impacted states who will need our immediate and sustained help

Urgent and unmet needs for disability supplies, equipment, and device distribution

Direct Support to Local Disability Organizations Impacted by Disasters

National Disaster Response and Recovery Coordination

Among our Disaster Hotline Calls and urgent requests for assistance:

Several people with disabilities being turned away from Florida’s shelter registry system because they are “too disabled”. This includes a mom with a disability and her disabled child with a tracheotomy who are now being assisted to stay out of a hospital or long-term care facility if they need to evacuate from their home.

A man in South Carolina receiving hospice care at home was assured that the hospice care provider had an emergency plan. His family contacted our Hotline when they discovered that the provider doesn’t have a plan and they are under a mandatory evacuation order. Our South Carolina Team and our partners from Triton Relief are working with this family to meet their immediate evacuation needs.

Persistent advocacy has resulted in much more frequent use of qualified American Sign Language Interpreters visible alongside Governors during emergency press conferences. However, we have received several complaints that, despite persistent advocacy efforts, critical emergency weather information being shared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on their website and the websites of the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center are not accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Thus, their directives to “pay attention to the cone” and other lifesaving visual information is not accessible despite federal accessibility requirements. We are continuing our efforts to ensure that all disaster-impacted people with disabilities have equal access to actionable emergency information.

During disaster response, our role is to anticipate and identify problems people with disabilities are facing; engage stakeholders; share good practices; drive program and policy imperatives and civil rights protection to proactively prevent harm.

We are providing tools and resources to disaster-impacted people with disabilities, local disability organizations and other stakeholders to solve problems; maintain health, safety, independence; and prevent institutionalization.

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall exactly 2 years ago, our Disaster Hotline has assisted over 5,000 disaster-impacted individuals, we have supported distribution of hundreds of thousands of medical supplies, equipment, and disability devices, direct assistance for local disability organizations and our community engagement initiatives continue to bring together stakeholders from every disaster impacted state and our local, state and national partners.

The assistance we provide would not be possible without the commitment of our partners and allies and the generosity of our donors. We are thankful for the many supporters from across the country who continue to pledge their support to our community, and we ask you once again to support our efforts to respond to the immediate needs of our neighbors impacted by disasters. You’ve been a big part of our organization’s fabric over the years. We can’t thank you enough for your support as a donor. Although we are relentless in pushing our communities and our government toward inclusive preparedness and disaster resilience every day, the frequency, intensity, and duration of disasters continue to grow, and our work is very far from over.

When communities are impacted by disasters, we are all impacted, and when disaster impacted people with disabilities are included in planning, response, and recovery, the whole community benefits. Your donation will have an immediate and substantial impact on disaster impacted individuals with disabilities, local disability organizations and the whole community.

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Hurricane Dorian #1

Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Florida are dealing with another hurricane. People with disabilities and local disability organizations need our immediate and sustained support. Dorian is now a Category 1 hurricane, bringing heavy rain, damaging winds, mudslides and power outages to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and it is now forecasted to strengthen to a Category 3 when it reaches Florida this weekend. Many communities in harm’s way are still recovering from Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Michael. The infrastructure on the islands is still vulnerable, particularly the power grid and many people with disabilities on the islands and in Florida have not recovered, and will once again be disproportionately impacted.

Portlight Strategies and the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies Disaster Hotline, Disability Assistance Response Team (DART) and our disability and medical equipment and supply resources are immediately available to all disaster impacted people with disabilities and disability organizations reaching out to us for assistance. Our DART is in close communication with local disability organizations to monitor their immediate needs so we can respond with the assistance disaster-impacted people with disabilities need.

Please Support our 24/7 Disaster Hotline, Disability Assistance Disaster Response Team, Urgent and Unmet Disability Supply Distribution, Direct Support to Local Disability Organizations Impacted by Disasters and National Disaster Response and Recovery Coordination

In 2017 and 2018 our Disability Disaster hotline reached over 4,000 disaster-impacted individuals and our community engagement initiatives continue to bring together stakeholders from every disaster impacted state and our local, state and national partners. The assistance we provide would not be possible without the commitment of our partners and allies and the generosity of our donors.

We are thankful for the many supporters from across the country who continue to pledge their support to our community, and we ask you once again to support our efforts to respond to the immediate needs of our neighbors impacted by disasters. You’ve been a big part of our organization’s fabric over the years. We can’t thank you enough for your support as a donor. Although we are relentless in pushing our communities and our government toward inclusive preparedness and disaster resilience every day, the frequency, intensity, and duration of disasters continue to grow and our work is very far from over.

Portlight Strategies and the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies lead a national coalition of thousands of individuals and organizations with a shared mission. We are committed to increasing individual and community capacity for equal access and full inclusion of people with access and functional needs for optimal whole community emergency preparedness, support when disaster strikes and community engagement throughout disaster recovery to build back better and truly improve safety and community resilience for all. Disability inclusive emergency preparedness is imperative to whole community readiness and resilience.

When communities are impacted by disasters, we are all impacted, and when disaster impacted people with disabilities are included in planning, response, and recovery, the whole community benefits. Your donation will have an immediate and substantial impact on disaster impacted individuals with disabilities, local disability organizations and the whole community.