The federal government is ready to better protect individuals with disabilities when hurricanes, fires, or different natural disasters strike under a new law marked by President Donald Trump.
The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, which was signed into law this week by President Donald Trump, requires the establishment of a national advisory committee explicitly centered around disaster planning for people with disabilities.
The advisory committee will include government officials as well as individuals with disabilities and healthcare experts. The committee will be entrusted to review government policies and recommendation to ensure that people with disabilities are better protected.
"No American ought to ever feel like they may be abandoned or overlooked when disaster strikes," said U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who proposed the advisory panel. Jim is also a person with a disability. "By incorporating individuals with disabilities as consultants during disaster planning and policy development, this bill guarantees that the needs of people with disability are met even during emergencies."
The establishment of the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and Disaster will help the government to better respond to natural disasters and any other emergencies. It comes as different government reports have uncovered defects in America's disaster preparedness for individuals with a disability.
A few months ago, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that individuals with disabilities and people over age 65 "confronted specific difficulties evacuating to safe shelter, getting to medication and getting recovery help" during the 2017 hurricane season. Disaster planning experts said that changes are required at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to more readily oblige this populace.
Independently, a report released a month ago from the National Council on Disability discovered that individuals with disabilities are frequently superfluously organized during and after natural disasters in light of conflicting government policies.
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