This week we saw catastrophic weather up and down the Gulf Coast of Texas with Hurricane Harvey, including wind damage in Corpus Christi and severe flooding in the Houston area. More rain and flooding is predicted through the end of the week. Millions of Texans are in the storm’s path, evacuating to shelters, staying in hotels, or sheltering in place.
Once the storm has passed and the flood waters have receded, people across the Gulf Coast region will begin the recovery process. Among them will be many people with disabilities and older adults. Here at NARIC, we came in to the office on Monday to prepare information about resources that may be helpful for the recovery process. Here are our suggestions for resources which may be able to help. We will continue to update this post as we learn of new resources.
Repairing or replacing assistive technology
Every state has an assistive technology (AT) center or project which assists people with disabilities in accessing AT. That assistance may include a device loan program, as well as financial assistance for purchasing or leasing assistive technology. Find your state’s office: https://www.ataporg.org/programs
Our friends at AbleData suggest contacting the manufacturer of a device, as they may have assistance available following major disasters. Look up your device’s manufacturer in their database: http://abledata.com/manufacturers-and-distributors
The Pass It On Center fosters the safe, effective and appropriate reuse of assistive technology (AT) so that people with disabilities can get the affordable AT they need in order to live, learn, work and play more independently in communities of their choice. Find a reuse program in your state if you need to replace items lost in the storm: http://www.passitoncenter.org/. You can also contact one of these programs if you have AT products which could be reused by another person.
If you are a Medicare recipient and have durable medical equipment, including mobility equipment like walkers or wheelchairs, Medicare will cover the cost to repair or replace items in certain cases. They may also cover rentals during the time equipment is being repaired. Learn more from Medicare.gov: https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/replacing-lost-or-damaged-dme-in-disaster-or-emergency.html
Easter Seals of Greater Houston has case managers on hand to help families replace assistive and medical devices: http://www.eastersealshouston.org/Programs/assistive-technology-resources.html
Finding temporary accessible housing
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has information about disaster assistance available from the agency and interim housing: https://www.fema.gov/interim-housing-resources
A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center can help you find temporary housing and begin the process of recovery. Call 800/621-3362 (800/462-7585 for TTY) to speak with a disaster recovery specialist.
Home repair or rebuilding
An independent living center (ILC) in your community can help find new accessible housing or identify providers who can conduct repairs to an existing accessible home. Find your nearest ILC: http://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory
Learn more about specific disaster assistance programs from FEMA: https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance. You can also register online to begin the recovery assistance process at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/
Accessible Housing Recovery Resources (PDF), prepared in May 2015 by the NY Sandy Recovery Office. Some of the resources are specific to the communities in New York and New Jersey hit by Superstorm Sandy, but many are general and appropriate for any US resident with a disability facing disaster recovery: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1433797046997-baffb2d0cbc7a323f6dac71e3962004f/AccessibleHousingRecovery.pdf
Eldercare.gov and your local Aging and Disability Resource Center can help you find home repair and modification resources in your community. Call 800/677-1116 or visit http://www.eldercare.gov to search.
General support and recovery resources
The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies Hurricane Harvey Helpline at 800/626-4959 is working with stakeholders to help get people to safety, provide for any immediate needs they may have for disability related accommodations, durable medical equipment and other assistive technology, responding to evacuation and sheltering issues and problem-solving for a variety of immediate disability accessibility issues.
Texas and Louisiana resources gathered by the ADA National Network https://adata.org/news/hurricane-harvey-emergency-resources
The American Red Cross offers guides to help start the process of recovering physically, emotionally, and financially: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services
211.org offers community-level information and referral. Many 211 centers partner with federal local emergency management agencies to provide services, answers, and relief in times of disaster. Call 2-1-1 or text 898-211 to speak with an information specialist in your community or visit their website to search for local resources: http://www.211.org
Texas Guide to Supports and Services for Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families Affected by Disasters (PDF) from the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University includes a variety of local and national resources http://www.southwestada.org/disasterPrep/Other%20Resources%20PDF%27s/TX-resourceguide-2010.pdf
FEMA issued a fact sheet of Federal aid programs specifically for the citizens of Texas. This page describes the types of aid which may be available https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/08/25/federal-aid-programs-state-texas
Registration and application management for these program are through DisasterAssistance.gov
ILRU offers disability911, disaster preparedness and recovery assistance for people with disabilities. Clients must have a qualifying disability and a qualifying disaster-related incidence to receive assistance. http://www.ilru.org/projects/disability911
NB: ILRU is located in Houston, TX, at the heart of Hurricane Harvey. It may be some time before their services are fully up and running.
Be Ready for Next Time
Disasters can strike at any time. They can be natural, like Harvey or Sandy, or man made like fires or blackouts. Visit these Helpful Links for Emergency Preparedness from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Community Living: http://rtcil.org/emergencypreparedness/links
Please call our center toll-free at 800/346-2742 if we can be of any assistance to you and your family as you return home and begin the rebuilding process.