What People With Disabilities Know About Surviving Climate Disasters

According to US Census Bureau data released in January, the majority of disabled Americans displaced by natural disasters don’t just find their lives disrupted, they literally never go home. There are also stunning disparities: Overall, just 1% of US residents were forced to leave home because of a disaster last year, versus 21% of those who are blind, and 31% of those who can’t care for themselves. This community also suffers far more severe deprivation after displacement: 70% of Americans who are deaf were living in unsanitary conditions a month after the disaster, as were 74% of those who can’t walk, and many are unnecessarily institutionalized after disasters.

In a May report, the National Council on Disability (NCD) outlined a litany of increasingly urgent concerns about the quickening pace of weather crises, the growing number of Americans with disabilities in harm’s way in states like Florida, and the challenges those who become displaced face after disasters. Among them: finding housing and employment, the inability of Medicaid to transfer across state lines, and the failures of local governments and disaster responders to comply with federal disability rights laws. “People with disabilities face a unique set of barriers during disasters, yet emergency management agencies consistently fail to account for those barriers and fail to coordinate with the disability organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) that represent them,” the report notes.

Read more in Bloomberg.

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