April 19, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
Hurricane season is quickly approaching and we all know it's never too early to get ready. Everyone who went through Hurricane Rita knows the importance of pre-planning and getting supplies together. Joan Farque with the Red Cross says supplies need to be gathered well in advance of a storm and with careful thought. " Recharge your batteries like you do every year for your smoke detectors, put new batteries in your flashlights. Good heavy work gloves. You fall, you blow your whistle somebody's going to hear you. While evacuating is an ordeal for everyone it can be especially trying for those with disabilities."
Rocky Fuselier knows all too well. "A lot of people weren't able to take their wheel chairs with them or left things behind. Shelters out there aren't always the best place to go. They're limited in space, limited in help. For someone with a disability who needs assistance, then a shelter is not the best place to go." Fuselier is the assistant director of the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center which held this seminar to help those with disabilities plan now.
David McIntosh with the Calcasieu Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says if an evacuation is called it's better for those with disabilities to leave early. "You are a special needs person and you will need special help in the event of evacuation for a hurricane. You need to take all your medications, wheel chairs, special medical machines. Whatever you need take with you. You can't just go and expect it to be given to you because it won't be."
Those here agree arranging to stay with family out of town is often the best plan. For more information on emergency planning for those with disabilities call the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center at 477-7194.