As part of its coalition work, ANCOR joined 28 other associations in letters to the House and Senate expressing support for the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act. While bill numbers are not available yet, the bills have been introduced by U.S. Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) in the House and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate. The legislation would create several mechanisms to ensure people with disabilities and older Americans are not left behind during disasters. This includes a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters, enhanced technical assistance to states and a review of whether federal resources for people with disabilities are being used appropriately during emergencies. Difficulties accessing resources during emergencies and disasters is a serious problem for the disability and aging communities, as highlighted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
As written in the letters:
“Since the turn of this century, our nation has experienced a number of catastrophic disasters with extensive loss of life and property damage. Too often, older individuals and people with disabilities have been overlooked in the preparation for and response to these emergencies and have struggled to obtain the appropriate supports and services they need to rebuild their lives. The REAADI Act will create a number of mechanisms to promote a well-designed emergency preparedness, disaster response and recovery system to ensure the safety, well-being, accessibility, rights and dignity of people with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs impacted by disasters.
Effective emergency preparedness and disaster response are a matter of life and death for people with disabilities and older adults. With the passage and implementation of the REAADI for Disasters Act, people with disabilities and older adults will no longer be disproportionately affected by the disruptions experienced when disaster strikes, and communities will be far better prepared to optimize limited resources and maximize positive outcomes for everyone. A well-designed and accessible system, put into place well before the next disaster strikes, will be more responsive, more effective, and more cost-efficient, significantly improving community readiness, resilience and disaster recovery for everyone.”