Sandy hits vulnerable populations hard; disabled and elderly at risk, post-storm

On NPR's Talk of the Nation today, a segment about the particularly damaging impact Sandy has had this week on elderly and disabled populations in the storm's path. Many remain isolated "in cold, dark homes without assistance, food and running water." Related: News today that a 93-year-old man whose electricity was knocked out has died from hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold.


  1. The thing is, it’s only that it’s more profitable for the media to publicize these difficulties during a shared crisis that, while exacerbated by the storm, exist for them every day of the year, every year. Neither of the major parties are concerned with changing these kinds of inequities, please vote accordingly.

  2. Getting on soapbox:

    After Katrina, many jurisdictions (including mine) attempted to create a Special Needs list where individuals and families who would need assistance could register (seniors, people with mobility issues, etc).  It has been a massive failure because no one will sign up.

    19% of any county’s population technically falls under what HHS refers to as functional needs groups.  Working with community partners like Meals on Wheels, Faith in Action, and the Area Agency on Aging, our county EMA has managed to convince almost five hundred residents to register.  

    Most counties are lucky if they can get thirty.There are 3 reasons for this —  1) ignorance.  Many residents don’t know this service exists.  2) pride.  “I’m not helpless!  I can take care of myself, I don’t need to be on some special register.”  and 3) fear.  If their name is on a list, many people fear they’ll be victimized.

    We’ve been working diligently to combat all three but it’s an uphill climb.

    (Disclaimer — I’m a member of the county Acces and Functional Needs Advisory Panel and vice-president of the Disaster Council)

    .If you know someone who needs assistance (because of medical, mobility, communications, or other issues), please ask them to talk to their county EMA/ESDA or Health Department to see if they can get registered.The only time our EMA has had to use the registry was during Snowmaggedon; a gentleman on a respirator had a generator arrive at his house with a couple of volunteer firefighters while he was still on the phone trying to get some help.

    I’ve worked in Public Health and Emergency Management for three years and we all admit that we’re not going to be able to save everybody.  But our chances are improved when individuals and families have plans for disasters and are prepared to become responders instead of victims.

    Getting off soapbox.

    1. I bet it’s because a Special Needs list of people is unnecessary. Just ensure that secular organizations who work in this area (the experts) get the resources to do their work during a crisis. They already know who needs help, so the government’s list is simply a duplication of effort.

      1. Actually, that’s incorrect. The community agencies I work with admit that there are many families/individuals who fall in this demographic who are not on any agency’s radar.

        The Special Needs registry is a partnership, a “whole community” effort. Expecting civilians to take care of everything is as unrealistic as expecting the gummint to take care of everything.

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