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Introducing a Guest Blogger

By: Portlight , 7:05 PM GMT on January 20, 2017





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We're excited to introduce Anita Cameron as a new Guest Blogger here with us at Portlight.



She is with PIDS, Partnnership for inclusive Disaster Strategies

Emergency Preparedness: Vital Necessity or Expression of Privilege?

Jan 20, 2017 -- Posted by : ACameron

As I hear of recent and impending disasters and assess my, and my household's state of preparedness, I've begun to ponder the assertion once made to me that it is privilege that allows me to be able to devote the time and energy that I have toward emergency preparedness.

Ok, I accept that if that's the way you feel. I have a different take on the matter. Everyone, as much as they possibly can, should be prepared. Many of us have the mistaken belief that the government will, or should be there to help when disaster strikes, but as people who have lived through disasters can attest, the government is often NOT there, at least, for the first few days.

Sometimes, even when first responders know of folks with disabilities in their communities, they either cannot or will not help—a situation that can--and has--led to tragedy.



Check out this scenario: A tornado or hurricane blows through your town and your neighborhood is affected; there is damage and rubble everywhere, most likely, blocking off streets, highways, and the like, preventing first responders like police, fire rescue and ambulances from reaching your area to help you and your neighbors out.

Now, you and your family are in your home or apartment a bit shook up, but otherwise, ok. If you're lucky, you still have power, so you watch TV or listen to the radio and are furious to learn that help will not arrive for three days. You're panicking because there's not much food in the house because you were supposed to go shopping tomorrow, and the water is only trickling out of the faucet.

You check on your neighbors and find that they're pretty much in the same boat except that odd lady with the dreadlocks who lives on the corner. She says she's a bit rattled but everyone is fine and they have plenty of food, water and supplies. She's about to go check on some other neighbors and invites you to go along.



You ask how is it that she has plenty of food and water when everyone else doesn't. She tells you she's been putting aside a can of food here and there, a bottle of water here and there, stashing a roll of toilet paper and batteries here and there for a few months and making sure that her and her roommate’s wheelchairs have been kept fully charged. You figure the lady isn't so weird after all, and maybe you and your neighbors should have listened to her instead of laughing.

You see, being prepared isn't just for rich people or Preppers waiting for a race war or the zombie apocalypse. Being prepared is for everyone, from those wealthy enough to build underground shelters stocked to the ceiling to folks living on a fixed income relying on food stamps.

For me, being prepared also means helping and teaching my neighbors to be prepared, as well. I'm not rich, nor am I special or privileged. I am a person with disabilities, who has a part-time job and who makes a couple of bucks off of my writing when I can. In my free time, I took classes on emergency preparedness, classes which are absolutely FREE. ALL of the classes I took, from CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) training to teaching CERT, to designing CERT programs were absolutely FREE, including textbooks! The only thing I paid for was bus fare to get to the classes.



Look folks, I fully understand that when you're struggling to make ends meet, when you're in that nursing home trying desperately to get out, when you're wondering when your attendant is going to come get you out of or into bed or come fix your breakfast or dinner, the last thing on your mind is emergency preparedness.

When your free time is devoted to fighting for civil and human rights for folks with disabilities, emergency preparedness seems just a bit frivolous, doesn't it? I think that's where some of the resistance and accusations of privilege comes in from my brothers and sisters in the Movement - that since I don't devote all of my time to freeing our people, that I have somehow sold out. My 35 years of fighting for social change and social justice, including 31 years in ADAPT doesn't count, so I suppose I have no defense.

To me, working to ensure that people with disabilities are included in all levels of emergency preparedness, from access to shelters to being involved in CERT and serving on committees, to teaching our community to be prepared is very important - perhaps, not as important as freeing our people, but certainly important in its own right.

The problem is, right now, those of us with disabilities who are into emergency preparedness are few and far between. We are separate voices in the wild, sometimes, with no support at all. For the most part, our community doesn't think about emergency preparedness until a disaster happens and someone with a disability is turned away at a shelter or there is no way to evacuate someone using a wheelchair.



Face it folks, natural disasters are occurring with greater frequency. We as a community need to be prepared to help ourselves and our families, at least. We cannot depend on the government or agencies to help us. It's up to us to be prepared. It's up to us to make sure that we are included in our city, county or state emergency preparedness plan and not take no for an answer when they don't want to deal with us. It's up to us to teach emergency responders how to help us BEFORE a disaster happens. It's up to us to learn basic survival methods so that we can help ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Trust me, NO one will do it for us!

If doing this to help my community means that I am privileged, then, I'm guilty as charged!



We are as always dependent upon your support for our work. Please consider making a donation at www.portlight.org.

We want to thank the extended Portlight Family for all you do as well as those who support us financially and with volunteering too.

portlight.org/Inclusive Disaster Strategies


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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5. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
7:17 PM GMT on February 22, 2017
Portlight has created a new entry.
4. Patrap
12:14 AM GMT on February 13, 2017


Louisiana Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Straight-line Winds (DR-4300)

Incident period: February 07, 2017
Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 11, 2017



Disaster Recovery Center to Open in Orleans Parish for Louisiana Survivors

Release date:
February 12, 2017
Release Number:
NR-002


Location: East New Orleans Public Library
5641 Read Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70127
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

To register with FEMA, go online to DisasterAssistance.gov, call the FEMA Helpline, or download the FEMA mobile app. Help is available in most languages and the FEMA Helpline is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice.




Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. Patrap
4:06 PM GMT on February 11, 2017

Troy Houston playfully dangles his son Troy, Jr. to distract him from his harrowing brush with the tornado, huddled with his aunt in the bathtub as the storm passed along Chef Menteur Blvd in New Orleans east, Wednesday, February 8, 2017. (Photo by Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Gov. Edwards requests Louisiana tornadoes be declared federal disasters
By Richard Rainey, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 10, 2017 at 5:05 PM, updated February 10, 2017 at 5:09 PM



To help New Orleans and southeast Louisiana clean up and begin rebuilding after devastating tornadoes struck this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards asked President Donald Trump on Friday (Feb. 10) to declare the storms to be federal disasters.

Edwards' formal request includes Orleans, Ascension, Livingston, Jefferson and St. James parishes, where a total six twisters touched down Tuesday as violent thunderstorms rolled through. His administration estimated as much as $1.1 million needed for debris collection in New Orleans East alone.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who asked the governor to make the request earlier this week, called it essential toward launching the city's recovery.

"I feel comfortable that we've done everything we can to make a great case for it," Landrieu said.

Edwards' letter to Trump was a required first step toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency sending emergency funds. Edwards asked for both individual assistance for victims and public assistance, which can be used to cover the costs of debris cleanup and other recovery-related government expenses. Assessors said 869 households, most of them in New Orleans, were damaged by the tornadoes.

Edwards, in his letter, argued the aid was essential, considering the raft of disasters Louisiana is already dealing with on top of a $304 million hole in its state budget.

Whether Trump signs off on sending aid, however, is another story. To be eligible for federal money, damage must be so great that it overtaxes local governments' capabilities.

While President Obama declared last year's floods in March and August to be federal disasters, a tornado strike that killed two people in St. James Parish in February 2016 didn't meet the threshold.

Landrieu, who was in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress during the annual Washington Mardi Gras festivities, said the White House confirmed to him they had received Edwards' letter.

"Our anticipation is the president's got it now, and our hope and expectation is that he'll sign it as soon as he can," Landrieu said.

Landrieu also said he had made the rounds and secured support for the aid from the state's congressional delegation. He is scheduled to return to New Orleans Saturday morning.

Read Edwards' letter here.

Crews from City Hall, the governor's office, FEMA and the Small Business Administration on Thursday canvassed the New Orleans East tornado's path, which stretched along Chef Menteur Highway from Wilson Avenue to Michoud.

Landrieu's administration reported 250 structures received enough damage to require major reconstruction or demolition, another 400 had moderate damage, such as destroyed roofs. About 1,000 properties had minor damage, such as missing shingles or broken windows, the city said.

Here is a brief explanation of the disaster declaration process and what basic federal assistance flood victims can apply for.

The EF-3 tornado, the strongest ever recorded in New Orleans, injured 33 people, but nobody was killed.

Edwards wrote that 814 households in New Orleans were victims of the storm.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, whose district took the brunt of the tornado's destruction, called on Trump to declare an official emergency for New Orleans. In a letter Friday (Feb. 10), Richmond pointed out the damage was close to the hangar at Lakefront Airport where Trump held rallies before and after his election victory.

"There are hard-working American people whose homes and lives have been destroyed through no fault of their own," Richmond said. "We need the president to declare this emergency so that they can get the support they deserve."
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2. WU-184442
6:32 AM GMT on January 31, 2017
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. Patrap
12:57 AM GMT on January 21, 2017
Welcome to the wunderblogs and the portlight community Anita.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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