Disaster preparedness for those with disabilities - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Disaster preparedness for those with disabilities

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By Derek Kinkade   - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In Columbus alone, over fifty thousand people are living with special needs.  Many of them function in society under normal circumstances quite well -- but tornadoes, house fires, and evacuations are not normal circumstances.

Mitzi Oxford, the Development Director with the West Central Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross is also on the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities.

"It's not only important that a person with a disability is prepared for a severe weather situation, or any type of disaster or crisis, but that their family members are prepared and their caregivers as well," she tells us.

The mayor's committee has made disaster preparedness a priority.

"In the event of a large scale disaster, those people can be identified and make sure they are being helped and evacuated, and that someone who is a first responder is aware of their situation and needs," Oxford said.

For those in the special needs community, having an emergency plan and practicing it is a crucial part of the process.  Rashad Jones is a student at Columbus State University who is also visually impaired.

"If we're not taking the steps now to go over these things, visit, and revisit them, to make sure there are plans in place and practical procedures in place, then I think we've failed," Jones said.

For some with disabilities, the challenge can start with getting crucial information in an emergency.  New technology, especially with computers and cell phones has helped.

"I'm very grateful for those advancements in technology and awareness.  I do think, however, there are a ways to go as with any type of struggle, so to speak.  There's always more that can be done," Jones said.

Be sure you check out the related links on the side of this story for more information.


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