LIFE Prepares Disabled For Storm Season - - The News for South Mississippi

LIFE Prepares Disabled For Storm Season

A non-profit group that advocates for the disabled says for people with special needs, hurricane preparedness goes way beyond stocking up on water and flashlights. Living Independently For Everyone, or LIFE of South Mississippi, has launched an information campaign to encourage people with disabilities to get ready for the storm season.

"You can't swim with a wheelchair," commented Cindy Singletary as she described to her co-workers the moment she realized Katrina's storm surge could threaten her home.

 "We knew that water was coming up so we had to plan what we would do if water came up," said Singletary. "That was very scary."

LIFE of South Mississippi says similar stories in the area led the non-profit agency to launch an information campaign.

Independent living specialist Terri Redding said, "Since Hurricane Katrina has hit we have noticed that a lot of people with disabilities were not prepared and they could have been and they should have been. So this year we have more of a push to prepare people with disabilities."

LIFE is also collecting basic supplies for disabled people but say they must be prepared to meet their own specialized needs.

"Someone who is hearing impaired may have to take extra hearing aid batteries," said Redding. "Somebody who is in a wheelchair may have to put little notes on the chair, laminated, about how to take the wheel chair apart and put it back together."

The newsletter includes information on transportation, and shelters but the main message is to leave.

"People have to be aware that a shelter, even special needs shelters aren't exactly handicap assessable. The rest rooms may not be assessable," said Redding.  "You may have to sleep on the floor. These are thing that people with disabilities need to be very aware of. Please, please evacuate. That is the best way that you can help yourself to be safe."

Another tip is to set up direct deposit if possible so you will still receive your income payment.

Next month LIFE Of South Mississippi plans to hold training on how people with disabilities can prepare for a storm. For more information, click here or call (228) 453-5433.

by Danielle Thomas

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