Organizer's Forum

Emergency Preparedness: September 15, 2015

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Organizer’s Forum: Tuesday, September 15th. Topic: Emergency Preparedness, 10 Years Post Katrina

TUESDAY, September 15th, 1-2 pm Eastern time, 12-1 Central time, 11-12 Mountain time, 10-11 am Pacific time

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This month marks ten years after Katrina, with massive destruction and displacement faced by people with disabilities, seniors, families, and entire communities. What is happening now to make sure such a disaster won’t happen again? Hear from experts and advocates about emergency preparedness and disaster response for people with disabilities. Join a discussion about what kind of advocacy and organizing is needed.


Paul Timmons, a veteran disability community organizer, is Board Chair of Portlight Strategies, Inc., a national disaster relief organization founded in 1997 by people with disabilities to serve the preparedness and response needs of people with disabilities and advocate for our inclusion in all aspects of this discipline.

Christy Dunaway has over 30 years of experience in the disability rights movement. She retired last year as the director of Living Independence For Everyone (LIFE) of Mississippi after 19 years of service with them. She currently consults with various entities to provide training and technical assistance on equal access, equal rights and emergency planning, response and recovery. She is the chairperson of the Emergency Planning and Response Sub-committee of the National Council on Independent Living.

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The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

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Looking forward to talking with you all!

Jessica Lehman and Diane Coleman
Co-Chairs, National Organizing Workgroup

Important Documents Pertaining to Emergency Preparedness

Date: September 15, 2015

Event: Organizer Forum





>>CART PROVIDER: Dialing 1-712-832-8310 and entering passcode 125175 now.

>>CART PROVIDER: On standby. (music playing)

>>CART PROVIDER: On standby.

>> Hi this is Jessica.  Do we have any of our speakers on the call yet?

>>Christy: Jessica, this is Christy Dunaway.

>> Hi Christy, how are you?

>>Christy: Good, thanks, how are you?

>> Good, thanks so much for being on.

>>Christy: My pleasure.

>>Paul: Hi Jessica this is Paul.

>> Hi Paul, good to talk to you again.

>>Paul: You too.

>>Jessica: Hi Nancy, haven’t heard your voice in a while.

>> I’ve been hiding out.

>> Sherry Meyer.

>>Jessica: I apologize if anyone was talking, I just muted everyone for a minute as I was testing out our technology.  Paul and Christy, were you able to sign in as an organizer.

>>Christy: I was,  yes.

>>Paul: I was.

>>Jessica: You said you were Paul or you were not?

>>Paul: I was.

>>Jessica: Okay, great.  I have to remember I don’t think I was able to tell Marcie and Steve, Steve is our unexpected fourth speaker we’re going to squeeze in here.  I have to be sure they are not muted.  So I have 10:01 California time.  We will just give people a couple minutes to join.  Everyone just hang tight for a moment.  Oh let me ask, while we’re waiting, usually Diane, who is the Co-Chair or co-planner for these calls is usually on the chat so that if anyone puts questions or comments there she can read them out.  She is not able to be on our call today.  Do we have anyone else who is able to get on the chat and take over that little job?  It is really easy, I promise.  It just means being at a computer and logging in.  I’m just going to give people another moment or two to join.  Yes, thank you.  I’m going to go ahead and get started, 28 people on the call, welcome everyone.  My name is Jessica I’m Executive Director in San Francisco California and along with Diane Coleman of Not Dead Yet I lead these forum calls.  It is a project of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, which is a national coalition of cross-disability organizations working to amplify the political and economic voice of people with disabilities, the organizer forum for people who are new to it is designed to expand and support community organizing within disability right communities or right movements and disability communities.  We always have a call on the third Tuesday of the month on the same time on a topic, sometimes specific issues we want to organize and advocate around.  Sometimes it is tactics like how do we get out to vote or how do we set up a town Hall meeting.  We’re always looking for ideas, if you have any please let me know.  This call is captioned, thank you for NDA for funding that and thank you to our captioner, you can log on and type in, in questions in the chat window and we will read those out on the call.  I did put out a request, if there is anybody on the call and on the chat, if you are willing to play the role of, when we get to the open dialogue, of reading out what is on the chat or maybe just letting me know that something is there.  I’ll try to keep an eye on it but it is a little hard to do it all.  Usually we have Diane but she couldn’t be here today.  Please remember to speak slowly and clearly and say your name before you speak.  Please don’t put us on hold, if you need to step away just hang up and you can always call right back.  You can mute your phone, if you are not speaking hit star 6 to mute your phone and hit star 6 again to unmute it.  So as I said for the organizers forum we do a monthly call, but we recognize an hour is not enough to really cover these topics, that there’s just so much to.  We are trying to encourage some on-going discussions.

We have a lister, which is organizersforum@ yahoo, we ask you to join that, not a lot of topics, your invoice will not be full.  Click join it is that simple.  You’ll get notices about future calls.  Also the organizers forum is on FaceBook and that is two words organizers forum, so please click like so you’ll be connected to that.

And we’re on the MBLA website, thank you to center for disability rights in Rochester for keeping the website going.

And that is somehow I’m blanking out I believe it is and I will check that during the call and tell you if I’m wrong about that.  Anyway on the organizer forum website you can find recordings of all the calls and transcripts of the calls and information about future calls as soon as we have it.  Um, let’s see, what else do I need to cover before we turn to today’s topic.  Oh um, I think we’re going to skip introductions because we have four speakers now, want to allow enough time.  In the link or in the e-mail that you should of gotten about today’s call there is a link to a Google doc or Google forum where you can basically sign up for today’s call.  If you haven’t done that yet take a moment right now or right after the call to give us your name, your e-mail, your organization if you are with an organization, so we have an idea of who is joining the calls in terms of tailoring them in the future and as well as keeping in touch.  So just skimming my notes to make sure I didn’t forget anything.  I think we got it.  So I want to turn to today’s topic, sorry I’m realizing, let me go ahead and mute everyone just so it is easier to hear.  Hold on one second as I do this.  Okay.  So I think people are muted.  Paul and Christy, can we hear you?

>>Christy: I’m here.

>>Paul: I’m here.

>>Jessica: okay great, Marcie I don’t think you joined the organizers code but if you press star 6 we can if it we can hear you.  Steve, if you are on just hit star 6 to unmute yourself.

>>Marcie: Hi this is Marcie, can you hear me?

>>Jessica: Yes, great.

And Steve are you on yet?  Wonderful we have everyone,  yes.  All right.  Thank you.  So today’s topic is emergency preparedness and part of the reason we’re doing this call right now is because we are ten years after Katrina, ten years after that major disaster we want to think about what is happening now to make sure such a disaster won’t happen again so we have a number of experts and advocates in the field to talk about what is happening.  Today of course being the organizers forum we’re really going to focus on not just how do we make sure people with disabilities are prepared but what kind of advocacy and organizing is needed for all of us in our own communities around the country.  Sorry about that siren in the background of my office.  So we have four speakers today.  I’ll introduce them all and then we will have them speak.  First we will have Marcie Roth the director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination at FEMA the federal emergency management, for people with disabilities, also has a background with ADAPT and various other disability organizations.  Of course Marcie and others if you want to add to these introductions, feel free.  Then we will have kiss tree Dunaway who has over 30 years of experience in the disability rights movement.  Last year she retired as director of Living Independence for Everyone LIFE of Mississippi after 19 years with them.

And right now she is consulting with various groups on equal access, equal rights, emergency planning, response and recovery and she shares the emergency planning and response subcommittee of national council on independent living, so we are very fortunate to have her as well.  Then we will have Steve with alliance institute.  I worked with Steve many years ago at ACORN, who some people may know.  Steve is in New Orleans, and can talk about his experience there, then Paul Timmons a vetted ran disability organizer, Board Chair of Porchlight Strategies national disaster relief organization founded by people with disabilities to serve response needs of our community and advocate for inclusion in all aspects of disaster preparedness.  So on that note I will go ahead and turn it over to Marcie.

>>Marcie: So thank you very much Jessica, just sound check.  Is this good?

>>Jessica: Yes, you are great.

>>Marcie: Okay, very good.  Well good morning everybody um or afternoon, depending where you are.  I am actually speaking to you from Sydney Montana where I am delivering a two day training course on integrating access and functional needs into and throughout emergency planning response recovery and litigation.  I have longed for the opportunity to spend time with NDLA because my background and my heart are as community organizer in disability rights.  That’s really all I ever did until I became involved in emergency management and when I went to FEMA in 2009 it was with really the whole purpose of making a connection between disability rights and community organizing and the federal government obligations under a variety of civil rights laws.

So since 2009 made some pretty significant changes and some pretty good progress on making disability access throughout whatever everybody else is doing rather than the more traditional special needs perspective since the past.  So I think that we have keyed up a lot of opportunities for an organized effort towards disability rights progress and it is important to me that we continue to work very closely in the true commitment, nothing about us without us, that we have really come to embrace at FEMA.  One of the critical elements of our nothing about us without us belief in community involvement is our memorandum of agreements, which includes agreements with NIKL, with National Disability Rights Network, with the pass it on, on center and most recently with Porchlight, we see these memorandum agreements as a great, I think Paul Timmons will talk about this, this is a great opportunity to go steady in a relationship, I think is how he puts it.  Really there is so many opportunities for an organized effort to drive forward in local communities before, during and after disasters.

And the federal government can’t do that and shouldn’t do that for our communities.  We can key it up, but we really need strong leadership from the community to really take it to where it needs to go.  There’s a tremendous amount of funding that goes to states every year.  We have provided guidance to the states on how they can use their response for accessibility, but all we can do it provide guidance to the states.  We have no enforcement authority.  So we really need our community partners to look in each of the states to drive that home.  There’s so much more I would love to talk about, but I really want you to have an opportunity to hear from the other speakers and I also want to have an opportunity to answer questions.  So in closing, we have gone from a team of one person, that was me, in 2009 to currently a cadre of 70 disability advisors, we are growing our cadre and soon hope to have 285 disability integration advisors as part of our team.

And we need good strong community organizing leadership to really make sure that we’re not just saying nothing without us but actually demonstrating that commitment.  Thank you.

>>Jessica: Thank you so much, Marcie, for starting us off.  We’re very fortunate to have you and again so people know we will have time for questions and answers and some open dialogue afterwards.  So next alternative, Christy Dunaway.

>>Christy: Thank you Jessica, can you hear me okay?

>>Jessica: Yes, thanks.

>>Christy: Thank you everybody for having us on this call I think Marcie and Paul and Steve will talk to you more about the organizing and the need for it.  What I want to do is give you some history from a little more personal standpoint than the standpoint center for independent living, what took place during Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.  At the time I was director here in Mississippi.  We had eight offices on the state.  Katrina came in as a category, it grew quickly in the Gulf, I don’t know if anybody could have really been prepared enough for it.  It slammed into the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Louisiana with a huge force.  What we began to realize really quickly, talking to you from stand point of independent living program, was that so many of the people who we provided services to, we did have an office down in Mississippi, people we were providing services to, many of them, many of them, had chosen not to evacuate.  They decided to ride the storm out, shelter in place, as opposed to going to any other type of shelter that was opened.  The reason for that was very simple, they knew the shelters weren’t going to be accessible and meet their needs.  They opted to shelter in place instead.  As a result, people died, people were injured, people were lost to the storm and it did not take us but about a week or so after the storm to realize, it took me three full days just to find the staff members of Mississippi who lived in our coastal counties.  Communication was cut off, we were cut off from being able to get down there.  I was not considered a first responder and therefore was not allowed to go any further south than about 90 miles from the Gulf Coast for days.  As an employer and as director of a center and as many of you centers for independent living tend to be more of a family unit often, that was devastating.  To me, not being able to find the individuals that worked for me, so I can’t even imagine what they were going through.

And actually what they were going through was in a couple of cases they were literally swimming for their lives.  The flooding that took place in our coastal counties was unprecedented and no one was prepared for that.  Again they opted not to go to shelters and shelter in place because they knew the shelters would not be accessible.  So what we began to do shortly after Hurricane Katrina is we went out trying to find people that needed assistance.  What we were discovering was that in many of the shelters um, well first of all we were not even allowed into some of the shelters because we were not registered Red Cross volunteers and as a result Red Cross wouldn’t let us in.  Even when we explained to them who we were and what we could offer to individuals in the shelters with disabilities, we were told either no you can’t come in, no there is no one here with a disability or no we got this covered and we don’t need your help so what we began to notice um in going and literally walking the lines of people who you were standing in line in the hot sun waiting for assistance was there was tons of people with disabilities who were not being provided the services they needed and were not being accommodated very quickly.  So working with some other grass roots organizations we pulled together medical equipment and began to try to get that medical equipment out.  The bottom line is we realized at that point we needed better organization among the grass roots agencies, among centers for Independent Living, because we literally watched people with disabilities die simply and only because they had a disability.  They had not been planned for, they had not been prepared for, they knew it and as a result they chose not to evacuate.  We made it one of our missions for our center here in Mississippi to never let that happen again.  So what we have done over the last ten years and just I retired last year but I’m still actively involved in it, what we have done is we worked closely with our local emergency responders and local emergency management organizations we got committees and task forces, we have talked to them about the need for um better more accessible services to individuals with disabilities.  We went from providing, from serving um a caseload we had at the time of Katrina we were serving probably about 2000 individuals state wide on August 31st of 2005 we had about 2000 consumers that we were serving and within one years’ time that number had tripled in size and you know as Center for Independent Living our capacity was stretched incredibly thin and we did not really have the capacity that we needed to do that, but we did the very best that we could.

And we realized that in the future we needed to be more prepared and the best way to do that was to work with those people who were hired and paid and taxed with the responsibility of ensuring that all people are as prepared as possible for a disaster and um that all people can receive the services that are available to them through the response and recovery efforts both short-term and long-term recovery.  We made some strides, proud to say in Mississippi, we survey a bunch of the shelters around the state, which we have done.  I think the most important thing we have done in the past ten years is develop those local relationships.  They’re not going to reach out to us, usually, because they don’t recognize it often as being a big enough problem or they just simply don’t think about it.  If you have a disability or a family member with a disability you know that often people with disabilities are not considered simply because it is not, it is not cruelty necessary, it is just ignorance often.  So we reached out to them as opposed to waiting around for them to reach out to us and I’m thankful that we have because we have had a couple of Hurricanes since then, considerably smaller obviously, but nevertheless devastating in some areas of the state.  Things have worked better when we have had other disasters in the state we’ve seen things working a little better.  It is not perfect, but it never will be when in a disaster situation.  So nothing necessarily is going to be perfect.  What we want you to know and understand nothing changes unless we ask for it to change and we demand that change.  You got to get involved at a local level.  If you don’t want to see people with disabilities dying in a disaster only because they have a disability and they weren’t planned for, then way to avoid that in the future is to get involved, contact your local emergency responders, do it now while the before a disaster strikes, we had not here in Mississippi, and as a result we incurred a lot of death.  We incurred a lot more, increased more severe disability, as independent living center our capacity was stretched to the maximum extent possible and still we were unable to serve everybody that needed it.  Coming from a more personal stand point I will tell you, don’t wait until a disaster strikes in your local area.  Get involved now, make a difference now, start your plans now, otherwise you will see people die, you will see people literally disappear, never to return, because their support systems are gone and there is no way to get those back into place quickly.  Because there has been no plans made to do that.  So that’s what I have to say and I just want to thank you all for listening, I think you will hear a lot more how to get organized hopefully from Steve and I know from Paul, so thank you.

>>Jessica: Thank you Christy for that stark wake-up call, we appreciate you being on and sharing that experience.

And now I would like to turn it over to Steve Bradberry.

>> Steve: thank you Jessica.  So a disaster is kind of like everything all happening at the same time and unfortunately when it occurs um our team tends to not be prepared, right.  So we get caught trying to react to what has happened as opposed to being prepared for it in the first place.  One of the things, I think for me, biggest lesson that [indiscernible] was to actually focus so much on, you know, being a depository for donations and things those types of services, right.  Because, I shared this with the folks in New York following [speaker off mic] there are a plethora of organizations that will fill that need.  Where there is an absence and the need is great is actually to monitor and be on top of what is happening at the various levels of government, whether it be the city, state, city, county, state and but particularly at the state and city level.  Because folks will use the disaster as an opportunity to push through legislation that may be harmful to the type of people there, that we work with, right.

And so just as an example there is still over a hundred thousand people who just never returned to the Wards because of bad legislation or the entire charter school system being pushed through in the absence of people who will be impacted by that.  All right.  Or in Mississippi where there was a move to displace an entire Vietnamese community in order to give way to um to casinos.  So the ability to get not halt, at least try to deter those types of things, require that, you know, organizations, different community based organizations um are focusing on what is happening in those rooms, right.  Because even if, you know, we’re able to, you know, set up whatever things that people might need there’s going to be, you know, these laws that will come through that have long-term impacts.

And will determine, excuse me, what the recovery will look like and who will benefit from that recovery.  So I’ll kind of leave it right there and then the questions and answers piece if folks have questions, more forward discussion.  But the single most important thing that I try to keep in mind around community organizing and disasters is to keep an eye on what is happening in the legislative bodies and what laws will they be passing and how will those impact the people we are working on behalf of.

>>Jessica: Thank you so much Steve for bringing in that perspective, we really appreciate you being on.

And our last speaker for the day is Paul Timmons, go ahead Paul.

>>Jessica: You still there Paul?

>>Paul: Hi, this is a sound check.

>>Jessica: Now we can hear you.

>>Paul: Very good, thanks everybody for the opportunity to be here.  It has been great to listen to the other three speakers.  I’m often asked if we learned anything in the ten years since Katrina, we learned a lot.  The question becomes what are we doing about it?  Depending about what day you catch me I’m actually, a lot of aid, other times I might say not so much.  What specifically we’re talking about.  (background noise) Marcie eluded to the idea —

is anybody hearing that feedback?

>>Jessica: Yeah I wondered about that.  Everyone should be muted, it could be one of our other speakers, so maybe if everybody, besides Paul can hit star 6 that will mute you.  Okay, say that again Paul.

>>Paul: Sure, so there have been a lot of agreements signed Porchlight just this summer going to do an MOA with FEMA, we have a memorandum of understanding, NIKL an understanding with the Red Cross as to a number of other our stakeholder organizations.  These are certainly useful, they sort of help to begin a foundation, get some local emergency, Christy eluded to the fact at the end of the day this is largely about relationships and so we certainly move things along in that regard.  I think a lot of us are beginning to see something of a disconnect with some of what I call the emergency management overlords and the folks at the grassroots, what we call the retail level and to them and I think some of the shortcomings that are extended in this provides tremendous organizing opportunities.  One of my guiding lines, original with me, if they don’t see us we don’t exist.  We got to get involved at the local level, with state and municipal people, we have to find out what committees are meeting and we got to make them ours.  A seat at the table is not good enough in my opinion, we got to own the room.  The Red Cross is 800 pound gorilla, they got to see us.  I like to see people from our community volunteering at the Red Cross in a variety of ways throughout the year so they see us, so we begin to develop some relationships.  Porchlight is beginning to do some things formally along those lines to sort of formalize our national network of supporters, shamelessly steeling the FEMA, ten FEMA Regions, Anita is handling that for us, I’d be glad to talk about that at a later point.  Just one other way of beginning to do some old fashion grass roots organizing.  But at the end of the day here, the answer is people behind business delivering these services, got to do it in a way that serves the whole community.

And as recently as this weekend, with the Valley Fire, we are seeing that’s not happening and I think we saw in that situation some scapegoating of the individual involved and in my opinion this requires old fashioned grass roots community organizing, something we’re good at.  I think it is an opportunity for us.  So I guess we’re going to have some questions and answers so I’ll just kind of pause there and maybe we can fill in some blanks as we move forward.

>>Jessica: All right.  Well thank you Paul.  We really appreciate having four speakers, with a lot of different experiences on the call and great insights and information that you shared, so thank you again.  So at this point we can go ahead and open it up.  I believe I have it in the right mode that anyone can unmute your phone to ask a question or make a comment by hitting star 6, so go ahead, anyone who would like to make a comment or ask a question.

>> Hello when is Jeff, can you hear me?

>>Jessica: Yes, we can, go ahead.

>> Jeff: Okay curious question, are any of the folks involved um had state or Regions that are part, have they noticed anything, I think this is more in preparation, related to things like elevator inspections um I say that because if people cannot, people that are in high-rises or buildings where the elevators aren’t working they can’t get out.  I’m just kind of curious to get your feedback on that issue, thanks.

>>Christy: This is Christy Dunaway.  Can you all here me okay?

>>Jessica: Yes, go ahead Christy.

>>Christy: All right.  I don’t know that I can answer that directly um I’ll tell you this, I was at the ADA symposium in Atlanta back in May I think it was and I went to obviously, I went to the IBC breakout session regarding elevators.  What I learned, to be perfectly honest with you, is I don’t know about how often elevators are inspected.  What I did learn during that breakout session was this.  Elevators, especially the newer ones at least, they are no longer made to drop to the ground floor immediately when a fire alarm goes off or smoke detector goes off or whatever.  Or even necessarily when electricity is out.  They’re not made necessarily to drop straight to the ground level anymore like they used to be.  They are made more sensitively so that if the smoke is on, if the elevator is on floor 16 and that’s where the smoke is coming from then Yes, it is made to drop, but if it is not then it is made to apparently that they remain there.  Bottom line is what they were trying to tell us is people with disabilities, if there is a working elevator in your building, use it.  If there is smoke or fire in the elevator shaft, the elevators will shut down.  If they are still working, however, that is your best mode of egress from the building is to take the elevator.  [Name?] we always heard go to the stairwell, wait there, somebody will come and get you, don’t use the elevator.  So to hear that was new to me and a little bit shocking.  It made sense um, but as far as the inspection of the elevators, no I did not hear anything, at least not at the ADA symposium regarding that.  What I can tell you, and Paul can tell you even more about this in New Jersey and New York when super storm Sandy hit there was a lot of elevators in high-rise buildings that were out, no power, a lot of people with disabilities on those higher floors.  They ended up being taken care of by their community, by their neighbors.  There was people who were trudging up and down 20 flights of stairs to take gas to a person stuck in their apartment that needed a generator running to run their ventilator that they use.  So but I can’t speak directly to the inspection of those elevators, I’m sorry.

>> Okay, I understand it is different in every state.  There may be backlogs I guess depending where you are located, but I appreciate the, the response, thanks.

>>Christy: You’re welcome.

>>Marcie: This is Marcie, the national fire protection agency, NFPA and pretty active group of disability leaders who participate in the advisory board around (microphone feedback) —

>>Jessica: Marcie, I’m sorry to interrupt.  This is Jessica, you just got a little bit hard to hear.  If there is somebody with background noise if you can try to hit star 6 to mute yourself, then Marcie if you can just speak up a little bit.

>>Marcie: Sure, is this any better?

>>Jessica: A little bit.

>>Marcie: Testing, testing.

>>Jessica: Yes a little fuzzy, I think if you speak a little loudly we should be okay.

>>Jessica: Okay.  So the National Fire Protection Agency, has a world buzz disability leaders who work with them around a variety of issues of important events and elevator evacuation issues are particularly important to the NFPA.  So I encourage you to follow-up with them, that would be a good place to start.

>> Thank you.

>>Jessica: Are there questions and comments?  Please remember to hit star 6 to unmute yourself.  The floor is open if any of our speakers have questions for each other or other things you didn’t have a chance to say, feel free to jump in.

>>Christy: This is Christy again, so I’m going to take this opportunity, since we don’t have questions.  A lot of people may wonder how, what they can do to get involved, how they can um show the emergency response community that we are valuable and contributing members um both in our communities as well as in the work that they are doing.  One of the things we did here in Mississippi was, I think Paul eluded to this, I asked the staff of the independent living center here in the state, for each of them to go to their local Red Cross organization and sign-up for training to be a volunteer so that during the next disaster we would not have Red Cross folks saying no you can’t come in here because you are not a volunteer.

And they did that.  Each one of the offices, not every single person in every office, but each one of the eight offices has at least one individual from the center go and go through the Red Cross training to become a volunteer so that in the event of the next disaster there they were, they were volunteers, they were certified, whatever.  They could be there and no one could tell them they didn’t belong.  That was one of the issues.  The second thing that we did was um we, this was probably because I knew somebody from college that helped me out with this, but um there’s a certified emergency response training course that communities can do and groups of people can participate in and you become a certified emergency response individual and we went through that and we asked specifically not to change that training to necessarily meet our needs.  We wanted to see, as individuals with disabilities, and we’re talking people who have visual impairments, who were blind, people with hearing loss, wheelchair users, people with amputations and that use prosthetics, et cetera, we all went through this certified emergency response training course and they did not change it for us.

And of course we learned that there was things that physically were difficult for us to do, it is difficult for some people to literally build a palanca in order to get somebody up from under a wall that has fallen on top of them.  Some of us did do it, those who could not do it there are other things that can be done during emergency and response mode of that emergency, that is desperately needed and it may just be, you know, sitting at a card table marking down the list of those emergency response, first responders who have entered a burning building so they knew who all went in and who hasn’t come out if needed to, that’s important, you know.  What we managed to do by going through these training courses is not only did we become trained and we had these certifications under our belt, we also proved to some of the first responders in the emergency management response folk that we were valuable.  That we had a lot to offer.  Because we were able to, through them training us, we were also able to train them as to what our abilities were and even if we couldn’t perhaps do something physically um there was other, there was other ways we could be involved that were important.  So I would encourage, you know, we’re talking local grass roots stuff here, I would encourage people to please find where these trainings are, most of the Red Cross training is online.  It is a matter of going to their website and taking it.  The SERT training can be found by contacting local emergency management agency I think.  Find these places, find the people offering these trainings and take it.  That’s the first way for you to become involved in planning disasters better.  Thanks.

>> Paul: Jessica, it is Paul, can I follow-up on that?

>>Jessica: Yes, go ahead.

>> Paul: what Christy said is very important, kind of goes back to my point, they need to see us.  My personal view of this is the emergency management overlords are astonishingly heavy invested in a medical model by community.  That makes this job exponentially harder because they are pretty, they are pretty certain of themselves in it in a lot of case cases.  I say that to extenuate point it is critical we get involved at local, municipal, county and state level and take ownership of this stuff at the grass roots level.  A couple of things we have run across I want to address real quickly, um almost always we’re going to hear somebody push back and say what about the role of personal planning and in fact you heard the local authorities in California doing that after the valley fire yesterday.  My view of their opinion of that was that it was critical of the woman who died and that they’re saying if she had a personal plan the situation would of been different for her.  My argument would be if they had a plan the situation would of been different for her.  So I’m just saying this sort of as a heads up, when you hear personal plan mantra be weary of it, I think it can lead to scapegoating.  Certainly I think, Marcie is going to wave in here, wave her finger at me,  yes everybody needs to have thought about this.  He have been needs to have a plan in mind, but at the end of the day this needs to be a whole community approach where the people who are in the business of providing this service, these services, provide to the whole community and in an accessible manner.  So that’s one of the things you’re going to hear about a lot, that and registries and other registries, I’m not a fan of registries.  But that’s it, thanks for letting me throw my two cents in on that:

>>Marcie: And this is Marcie.

And let me say won’t be any finger waving, I agree wholeheartedly, people do certainly need to have a personal plan, but the expectations has to be that plan is achievable and that information that we give people is accessible and actionable.  So specifically emergency planning directs people to do things that are not achievable, for example, emergency plans will specifically tell people that they need to have three or seven or ten days of medication available and that is, as we all know, that is often not possible.  And if that’s the first thing that we tell people and they know that they are not going to be able to achieve that, then it is not realistic to expect they are going to take the other steps.  I can’t speak to the individual circumstances around the very unfortunate step of the woman who died in the fire yesterday but in terms of planning, if people where are going to have a difficult time evacuating, for whatever the circumstances are, you need to be planning long before the next disaster.  To include people who are knowledgeable about the requirements of people with the evacuation.  Certainly in the state of California um the incredible leadership, (feedback) the example of — across the country.  Obviously a whole lot more than since having one person in the leadership role (background noise) the models you are seeing that is most promising across the country is when disability advocacy organizations, service provider organizations, are actively engaging as Christy was talking about, with emergency management.  Is there someone in your local emergency operation center at the beginning of the next disaster?  That won’t happen during the disaster if you haven’t planned for it.  If there is folks that are knowledgeable in emergency operation center, they are going to be able to ask the kinds of questions and anticipate the kinds of needs that folks in the communities may have during the disaster.  But planning and exercising the plan is critically important.  So what can we do today to plan for — whether it is a fire or earthquake or volcano, or terrorist attacks, we need to plan for it all.

Communication access needs to be at the table.

>>Jessica: Other questions and comments?  Again remember to hit star 6.

>> This is Steve.  I just want to follow-up on the comment that, you know, one of the things that can be done in preparation is to make sure that um as plans are being developed for whatever the type of disaster is and particularly if it includes an evacuation process, that as the city or state is looking at those, that you really get in order to assure that those with the least capability are taking into account, right.

And so a lot of what happened, particularly in [Name?] is that people did not leave because Hurricane is part of the life here.  This was not in fact a Hurricane that did the city in.  But the failure of the levee system.

And so once that began to happen there was some things that people knew to do, so people had these in attics and knew how to keep a small supply.  But transportation, knowing where to go, having places where people could go, those things, although they had been in place for many years as, you know, we got comfortable with the lack of a direct hit, those types of things were discontinued.  So when the storm hit you had people going to where they thought they could go and get help, which was the Super Dome and convention center, since that time, not driven by the city, but other community folks to set up locations where people could go to get picked up because there are a large number of people who don’t drive, right.

And so things like that, that we need to make sure is occurring because in general, you know, um the elected and what not, not thinking about folks who have the greatest need.  Before Hurricane Katrina, would ask what was the plan in place, what was people plan for evacuation will be.  Pull out a hundred dollar bill say this should be your plan.  That’s not a reality for low income families or people who have to live, you know, with government assistance.

And so as plans are being developed it is important we are in those places to make sure that those plans include the people who are least able to fend for themselves.

>>Jessica: If I can just add something.

>>Marcie: This is Marcie.  If I can just add um, we may be the use of the term, the term we are using

around emergency planning and —

>>Jessica: Marcie, I’m sorry, it is really hard to understand you right now.

>>Marcie: That’s probably because — is this any better?

>>Jessica: Not really.

>> It is pretty bad.  This is Paul, just let me state, maybe the most critical point of the whole thing.  Because of the New York City litigation and some DOJ poking around into this, cities around the country, municipalities are beginning to create plans.  It will astonish you how many plans come across my desk for court review that nobody with a disability has had a hand in formulating and we, as a matter of policy, refuse to look at those.  It is critical we get involved at the grass roots levels in these plans, these municipal plans from the beginning.  There are many reasons why and I’m sure I don’t need to get it into in this group, but find out the status of your city’s planning process if you can and get people to the meetings, get people involved.  It is not just enough to have a seat in the room or a seat at the table, it has to be a vocal seat and a knowledgeable, and a knowledgeable person.  So yeah get, I would encourage everybody to get really about finding out where your municipality is in materials of your planning process and literally I have had calls from cities wanting to know if I know anybody with disabilities in the community where they announce emergency plan.  We got to get involved in this and early to use Marcie’s, to get all this in.

>> Let me just add, this is Christy, Dunaway.  Let me add, before I ever even, as soon as people found out that I was about to retire as director of this center for individuals with disabilities independent living center, what he wanted was training.  We have a lot of centers out there, a lot of smaller grass roots disability advocacy, maybe you need to make a little more.  Don’t need to give away this expertise, let people pay you to come in there and provide some training, as long as you know what you are doing and you are good at it and can provide some training to them.  You know, they need us, they don’t want to get sued, that’s the bottom line, been enough lawsuits, the municipalities are starting to pay attention to it.  Don’t want it to happen to them.  Give them the opportunity to invite you to the table and to provide them with some training.  I they will do it, I think at least some of them will do it, at least for no other reason than not to get sued.  Who cares what the reasons are as long as you are table and we can save a few lives.

>> That’s right, Christy and Marcie and I can help you get to the point where you can do the taping at a comfortable point.  Another thing Christy said, don’t give this stuff away, make them pay you for it.

>>Christy: Yep.

>>Jessica: All right.  I have, this is probably our last comment from Andrea on the chat.  She says in terms of evacuation from buildings I feel that every multistory public building ought to be legally required to have evacuation chairs ability, the Chair is designed to make it easier for untrained bystanders to assist people who cannot walk in, in evacuating down steps from stories or up steps from a basement in order to evacuate a building.  To be hung on the wall near every stairwell.  She gives a website for evacuation chairs, different kinds, meeting different needs.  In the absence of laws, which should be the long-term goal to require this in every public building.  Agencies, et cetera can consider having evacuation chairs available for own staff and visitors at the office.  Thank you for that Andrea.  So our final minute, oh and the clock just turned.  So I’m going to go ahead and wrap up, this is Jessica again.  First a huge thank you to our four speakers, we really appreciate you all taking the time to share your insight and expertise um and if it is okay with all of our speakers we will put their information on the website the NDLA website so people want to contact them further with questions or comments please do.  Please do remember to add a comment or a question on FaceBook or on the organizer forum list-serve here is something that stood out to me, here is something I learned today, here is something I’m thinking about so we can continue the conversation and bring in folks that weren’t able to join the call today.  Thank you also to our captioner for being on.  Our next call will be the third Tuesday in October.  So we hope you all will join us then.

And I think that covers it.  Thanks to everyone for participating and have a great day.

>> Question, will this be recorded?

>>Jessica: Yeah this is being recorded and will be on the NDLA website.

>> Okay and so everybody register, will everybody registered get an e-mail about this, a link?

>>Jessica: You won’t automatically, we are hoping to get that in place.  For now go to the website I did have it wrong, sorry about that,, click on organizers forum.

>> Okay is it www.disability or just http —

>>Jessica: Www — I think


>>Jessica: yes.

>> Thank you very much.

>>Jessica: Thanks everybody, bye.