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In Sandy’s Wake, Impact On Those With Disabilities Unclear

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(Updated: November 5, 2012 at 11:15 AM CT)

As communities up and down the East Coast deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, several disability advocacy groups are stepping up to help those affected.

National organizations including The Arc, Autism Speaks and the Autism Society are reaching out to families of those with developmental disabilities to help them access assistance and in some cases offering financial support.

As of Friday, officials at Autism Speaks said they had heard from about 120 families and had added an extra staff member to handle the volume of requests.

“I believe that we are just scratching the surface so far,” said Lisa Goring, the organization’s vice president of family services.

The task has been difficult, with widespread power outages affecting communication and forcing local offices of many disability organizations in the affected region to close. As a result, the full impact of the storm on people with disabilities is unlikely to be known for some time, advocates say.

The National Disability Rights Network has an ongoing relationship with the Red Cross and federal agencies to ensure support for those with special needs in disasters.

“At this point, that collaboration continues but in these situations it takes some time before we know how well things are being implemented. We have not heard of any specific examples — good or bad — from the affected areas,” said David Card of the National Disability Rights Network.

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  1. vmgillen says:

    Staten Island (you know, former home of Willowbrook). I hear reports of many residences without emergency evac plans, kits with no flashlights, etc. While schools seem to be on the ball with disaster planning, that is, by and large, not the case for adult programs… ditto for senior citizens, btw. The vulnerable fall through the cracks, as usual… and yes, complaints are going through to NYS OPWDD.

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