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Hurricane Preparedness for Elderly and Disabled

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

Wheeler Clemons has been a quadriplegic since getting into a car accident 10 years ago. While everyday tasks like dressing and eating are difficult enough, Clemons said he can't imagine living through a natural disaster.

"Just being able to get up, get out of bed and get to a place of safety much less the other immediate needs: food, water."

Those needs surely aren't being ignored. Several Big Bend agencies are kicking off an initiative called KIND: Knowledge, Information, Neighborhoods in Disaster. They'll choose neighborhoods with heavy populations of seniors and disabled residents, and then designate team captains.

"The people that know the seniors and disabled population themselves, to really empower them, feel supported if something does happen in our community," said project coordinator Scott McLaughlin.

With more than $40,000 worth of donations, the group will hand out preparedness pamphlets and disaster kits.

"Gov. Bush has asked all of us to prepare for disasters that can prepare, but sometimes people are not in a position to help themselves. They need their neighbors’ help, they need partners like this and grant funds to help reach out and seek assistance for people with disabilities," said Wendy Director, the executive director of Volunteer Florida.

One of the goals of the KIND initiative is to hand out backpacks or disaster kits filled with bottle water, flashlights and weather radios.

Volunteer Leon says they're in need of hundreds of volunteers, but the catch is you have to sign up ahead of time. A volunteer sign up meeting will be held May 4, 2006 at 6 p.m. at 918 Railroad Avenue.


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