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“High Concentrations” of NY’ers with Disabilities Live in Flood Zones

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013   

NEW YORK - A high concentration of people with disabilities live in flood-prone areas of New York such as Zone A, advocates say, so planners need to take that into account for future storms.

All told, says Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled in New York, some 118,000 people with disabilities were living in the city's major flood zone when Superstorm Sandy made its terrible impact. In one part of Zone A, she says, the occupancy rate for people with disabilities is nearly twice that of the rest of the city.

"That suggests that planning for the Zone A areas and recovery efforts should be concentrated heavily on the needs of people with disabilities."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested people with disabilities might want to self-register with the state for future storms. While his suggestion is well-intended, Dooha says, the people who would be affected by it have a number of concerns with that proposal.

"A registry will not produce an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter, an accessible cot, an accessible porta-potty, it won't ensure safe evacuation, or preparation for sheltering in place. And it will spend a lot of taxpayer dollars, without ensuring critical issues are dealt with in a planning process."

From the Sept. 11 attacks, a major blackout and several major storms, Dooha says, the city has had more than a decade to prepare - and planners need to ensure they include provisions for people with disabilities when the next disaster hits.

Dooha also will present her group's views on communications issues, gaps in transportation, health care and housing issues at a New York City Council hearing today concerning Superstorm Sandy.


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