NEW YORK—After an active 2011—including two natural disasters and multiple terror threats—some of New York City’s community leaders questioned how prepared the disabled or elderly community is for any natural or man-made disasters that may occur in the future. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez organized an event on Wednesday at Isabella Geriatric Center specifically looking at the preparedness in Northern Manhattan, which has a higher than average population of elderly residents.
“Community preparedness becomes especially important when it comes to special needs residents who may need additional support,” Rodriguez said. “The city should make it policy to ask every disabled New Yorker about their emergency response plan, and to offer assistance if that individual desires it.”
The residents present, many of whom live in high-rise buildings, voiced concerns over what to do when the elevators are not operational in a disaster. Getting down the stairs for a disabled or elderly citizen can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Deaf residents voiced their concerns for the incorporation of closed captioning in emergency announcements, something they said did not happen during Hurricane Irene.
The organizers, which included the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New York State Division of Homeland Security, the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project, the Salvation Army, the Harlem Independent Living Center, and Community Board 12’s Community Emergency Response Team, hopes to take the feedback from their meeting and discuss implementing them with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and other agencies.