FEMA Still Falls Short in Disaster Planning for People with Disabilities
After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, thousands of displaced persons with disabilities were left stranded in shelters, forced into institutions, and given trailers without ramps, with inaccessible bathrooms, inadequate room to maneuver wheelchairs, and other accessibility barriers because FEMA had no process in place to determine whether displaced persons had disabilities and needed accessible trailers and no system to meet their needs.
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) and allies filed a successful lawsuit against FEMA, and obtained accessible trailers for people with disabilities and made group trailer sites accessible. Intent on ensuring that FEMA not repeat its past mistakes, NCLEJ has been monitoring FEMA to see whether it has better policies in place for future disasters. As the briefing report below indicates, FEMA does not appear to have adequate policies in place for meeting the temporary housing needs of anyone — either people with disabilities or others — in future disasters.