September 6, 2017

Resources for inclusive emergency prep and response

two people push a person in a wheelchair through a flooded street

Photo by habeebee / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Current natural disasters, including the wildfires burning across the Western United States and the hurricanes impacting the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard, require us to look at the best practices and resources available to support all people, including those with disabilities, in preparing for and dealing with emergencies. In rural America, where it can be challenging to access resources on a good day due to geography, transportation, or scarcity, inclusive preparation and response is especially important.

Here are a couple resources that RTC:Rural and our partners recommend that can help people with disabilities plan for and recover from emergencies and other natural disasters.

Emergency Preparedness Toolkit

The Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) Emergency Preparedness Toolkit contains resources to help individuals with disabilities, their families, caretakers, and communities plan and prepare for emergency situations. The toolkit’s purpose is to increase awareness of inclusive emergency preparedness planning, and to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency planning, from the individual to the community and state levels.

The Toolkit contains information on many topics, including:

  • How to register and record medical information so it can be clearly communicated with medical personnel during an emergency
  • How to assess emergency shelters for accessibility
  • First aid tips for pet owners
  • Emergency driving tactics and tips
  • How to promote involvement of people with disabilities in the planning stages of emergency preparedness

FTA Hurricane Harvey Information for Transit Agencies

In addition, Billy Altom, the Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, shared this information from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) about Hurricane Harvey and the FTA Emergency Relief Program, which contains useful information for transit agencies who receive FTA funds.

The FTA Hurricane Harvey Information website shares information for FTA grantees, specifically in regards to the charter rule, rebuilding and other repairs, planning, and procurement processes.

Emergency Relief Manual: Reference Manual for States & Transit Agencies on Response and Recovery from Declared Disasters and FTA’s Emergency Relief Program (PDF) provides information about disaster preparation for transit agencies, response and recovery funding and resources, and emergency relief program policies and requirements.

In particular, the FAQs on page 59 of the manual are a good place to look for information. They contain sections addressing questions and concerns for transit agencies directly impacted, resuming or adding services, funding, and assistance for evacuees and special needs populations. This document also contains contact information for FTA regional offices, FEMA regional offices, and state emergency management agencies.

This information will also be part of a forthcoming update to the Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program, which will be available next month. The update will include new information on funding sources as well as an expanded transportation resources section.

The Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program provides a model that describes how to bring together community members and resources to develop and operate a transportation system for people with disabilities in rural areas. The updated Toolkit will be available to download for free on the APRIL and RTC:Rural websites. Stay tuned!