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New Guidance to Support People with Disabilities During Disasters

Author: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) : Contact: fema.gov

Published: 2010-11-04 : (Rev. 2016-10-19)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Guidelines on emergency sheltering to help state planners and organizations ensure people with access and functional needs receive lawful and equitable assistance in the aftermath of disaster.

Main Digest

FEMA Issues New Guidance to Support People with Disabilities During Disasters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced new guidelines on emergency sheltering to help state planners and non-profit organizations ensure that people with access and functional needs receive lawful and equitable assistance in the aftermath of a disaster.

The Functional Needs Support Services Guidance, or FNSS, gives state governments recommendations to help them provide emergency sheltering services that meet the needs of their communities and are in compliance with existing federal laws designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Stafford Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Architectural Barriers Act and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act.

"At FEMA, we don't plan for easy, we plan for real - and that means doing a better job of meeting the needs of people with disabilities when a disaster strikes," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "We have to start by supporting and encouraging our entire emergency management team, including our state and local partners, to integrate the needs of people with disabilities into all of their planning. These guidelines are an important step forward in these efforts, and will help ensure that shelters better meet the needs of evacuees with disabilities, from providing sleeping arrangements, to meeting hygiene and dietary needs, to accommodating for service animals."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in every five Americans has some type of disability.

The FNSS guidance encourages emergency managers to integrate the needs of people with disabilities - and all populations in their communities - into every aspect of their planning for disaster preparedness, response and recovery operations.

Planning for the whole community and incorporating the needs of people with disabilities into disaster operations has been a top priority for Fugate since coming to FEMA.

In September, FEMA hosted its first-ever "Getting Real" conference, which brought together stakeholders from the disability and emergency management communities to discuss how we can better partner together and integrate the needs of people with disabilities into our emergency planning. Read more about this conference.

FEMA's mission is to support our first responders and ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Learn more about FEMA's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination and find out more about the Functional Needs Support Services Guidance - www.fema.gov/about/odic/

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