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Emergency- Management Collaboration

Reprinted from PN June 2011

On March 11, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) signed a memorandum of agreement that further strengthens their growing partnership to ensure the access and functional needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into all aspects of planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

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On March 11, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) signed a memorandum of agreement that further strengthens their growing partnership to ensure the access and functional needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into all aspects of planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

Hosted by the White House, the signing was attended by advocates from the disability and emergency-management community, including disaster survivors as well as national security and disability advisors for President Obama.

“FEMA is just one part of the emergency-management team,” says FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “The President and I are fully committed to addressing the needs of people with disabilities, in part by ensuring that Americans with disabilities—critical members of our team—have a seat at the table to make sure we are serving and protecting all the members of our communities equally, before, during, and after a disaster.”

While FEMA has coordinated with NDRN in the past, this agreement will strengthen their relationship to ensure the needs of people with disabilities, young children, seniors, and all members of the community are fully integrated into emergency-planning efforts.  Specifically, the agreement will ensure that advocates for NDRN’s 57 state and territory affiliates have access to FEMA disaster-response offices, including work space and logistical support, before, during, and after a disaster, to be involved in policy decisions and coordinate directly with the entire emergency management team. This partnership will help FEMA leverage the resources of the entire community, including resources NDRN or other organizations can offer, to better meet the needs of the entire population impacted by a disaster.

Improving how FEMA plans for and incorporates the needs of people with disabilities into all aspects of disaster operations has been a top priority for the Obama administration and Administrator Fugate. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced legislation that directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure each state provided comprehensive information regarding plans for evacuating individuals with disabilities and a variety of access and functional needs, and to plan for providing food, water, and shelter for evacuees with disabilities or access and functional needs.

Early last year, Administrator Fugate established the first-ever office within FEMA focused on this goal: the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination.

In July 2010, FEMA signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Council on Independent Living that allows the 450 centers for independent living across the country to access FEMA disaster recovery centers in order to better assist people with disabilities impacted by a disaster. In September 2010, FEMA hosted its first-ever “Getting Real” conference, which brought together stakeholders from the disability and emergency-management communities to discuss how to better partner together and integrate the needs of people with disabilities into emergency planning. And in November 2010, FEMA announced new guidelines, the Functional Needs Support Services Guidance, on general population emergency sheltering for people with access and functional needs.

Contact: FEMA-NewsDesk@dhs.gov / 202-646-3272.

 

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Emergency- Management Collaboration

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