August 28, 2011, the State of Vermont was devastated by Tropical Storm
Irene, resulting in several deaths, hundreds of homes destroyed, over a
thousand Vermonters displaced, damage to hundreds of businesses and
farms, and thousands of roads and bridges being washed out. In the
aftermath of this historic natural disaster and with funding made
possible by the Vermont Department of Public Safety, Disability Rights
Vermont and the Vermont & New Hampshire Valley Region of the American
Red Cross worked collaboratively to survey emergency shelters for
accessibility and develop emergency planning processes inclusive of
people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs in
disaster planning, preparedness, response, relief, and recovery efforts.
Disability Rights Vermont also provided 8 two-hour trainings to 45 Red
Cross volunteers and approximately 25 Community Emergency Response Team
(CERT) volunteers on the ADA, disability etiquette, and assisting
individuals with disabilities during times of disaster.
processes for surveying and adapting emergency shelters to ensure
accessibility and sheltering of people with disabilities in an
best practices for training emergency management staff and
volunteers in working effectively with people with disabilities.
strategies for building effective partnerships between state
governments, emergency preparedness/disaster recovery agencies, and
the disability community.
A.J. Ruben has been
Supervising Attorney at Disability Rights Vermont (DRVT) since 2002. He
and his family live in a rural town in Vermont that was cut off from the
rest of the state for eight days during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and
has worked with DRVT on emergency planning and preparedness issues for
people with disabilities ever since.
Tina Wood has been a
Senior Investigator/Paralegal with Disability Rights Vermont (DRVT) since
2000 and works mostly within the prisons in Vermont, investigating abuse
and neglect allegations, and advocating on behalf of prisoners with
disabilities. She has 15 years of experience volunteering in varying
local emergency management roles, and currently is a Red Cross Disaster
Liaison to the State Emergency Operations Center.
Michelle Bishop is a
Disability Advocacy Specialist at the National Disability Rights Network
(NRDN). In her role at NDRN, Michelle provides training and technical
assistance to the national Protection & Advocacy Network (including
DRVT) on inclusive emergency preparedness. She also works collaboratively
with NDRN's MOU/MOA partners, FEMA and the Red Cross.
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