Lessons learned from the world trade center disaster: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities in New York September 2004 contents

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CIDNY consumer case file

  1. Disasters interrupt specialized services essential to people with disabilities.

In the aftermath of the WTC incident, and reflecting the disregard for people with disabilities in response and recovery planning and operations, many vital services remained disrupted or disallowed, even when it became clear that doing so placed people with disabilities at risk.

  • Delivery of food, medication, oxygen, and home care services were unavailable for many people in the “Frozen Zone” for a prolonged period of time.

  • Access-A-Ride and other transportation for people with disabilities were interrupted, thereby causing many people with disabilities to be captive in their homes and unable to get out for appointments, food, and services.

  • Closed captioning for the deaf on television was suspended for some period of time, causing immense confusion for the hearing impaired, who could not obtain accurate or timely information on what was happening during and after the attack. Exacerbating this situation, Tele-communications for the Deaf reported that telephone relay centers (which translate typed messages from deaf callers into spoken words to the people they are calling, and vice versa) were unprepared for the deluge of calls on September 11th, so that many callers were unable to communicate with friends and family.1

New York City Transit, which runs the Access-A-Ride paratransit service, is taking reservations only one to two days in advance, instead of the usual four days. Buses…cannot go below the Frozen Zone near the attack site…. Some subway stations remain closed and are being re-routed, which may cause complications for people with mobility impairments who depend on catching the train at a specific stop, or for people who are blind and rely on their routine.

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