The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on People with Disabilities: A Look Back and Remaining Challenges
August 3, 2006
SCOPE AND PURPOSE:
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the lives of many people who lived in the Gulf Coast region. With almost a year since the Hurricanes made landfall and wreaked havoc on the lives of many, we now have a clearer understanding of what went right, as well as what went wrong, with the response and recovery efforts. As this report will demonstrate, people with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the Hurricanes because their needs were often overlooked or completely disregarded. Their evacuation, shelter, and recovery experiences differed vastly from the experiences of people without disabilities. People with disabilities were often unable to evacuate because transportation was inaccessible.
To ensure that people with disabilities do not experience similar injustices during future catastrophes, emergency plans must acknowledge and address the difficulties experienced by people with disabilities discussed within this report, as well as include people with disabilities in rebuilding efforts. The National Council on Disability (NCD) offers these findings on the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on people with disabilities to guide the President, Congress, and other emergency planners to develop inclusive emergency preparedness and response plans.