Severe weather prep kits will be available for people with disabilities, elderly

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — According to Able South Carolina, people with disabilities are up to four times more likely to sustain an injury or die during a disaster than people with no disabilities.

To help change that, Able SC is partnering with the SC Department of Aging to provide weather alert and assistance kits for people with disabilities.

Mandy Halloran, Able SC’s Director of Public Health and Disability Integration, says disabled people are affected at a greater rate when power and water utilities fail during severe weather.

“Our goal is to ensure people with disabilities are included and receive equitable services throughout the state in all aspects of emergency planning,” Halloran says.

Funded by a grant through Dominion Energy, Halloran says the kits will be customized to meet each person’s needs.

They’ll include things like three days worth of food and water, and a weather radio that’s linked to the National Weather Service.

Bed shakers, loud alarms, and strobe lights will be available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. And pet packs can be included for people with service animals.

Reba Landry, Disabilities Health Equity Specialist with Able SC, says the kits will help people with disabilities feel less isolated during an emergency.

“”We’ve often been left out or considered last so this is a step that I think will help a lot of people with disabilities realize and really embrace the knowledge that we matter and we’re worth saving and bringing into the ability to have access when there is an emergency,” Landry says.

Dori Tempio, Director of Community Outreach and Consumer Rights with Able SC, says one in four people nationwide have a disability while one in three South Carolinians are disabled.

“Whether it’s a tornado, a hurricane, a power outage, an ice storm, whatever that looks like. It really changes the dynamic of people with disabilities feeling confident and knowing they’re at the center for making choices and making decisions and being able to feel confident in that preparation,” Tempio says.

According to Able SC, training for the weather kits will be provided free of charge and can be done in person or virtually for individuals and families.

The kits will be ready for distribution in four to six weeks. The organizations say they will alert the public when the kits are ready for distribution.

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