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Volume 27, Issue 3

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Elderly Need Special Plans To Be Ready For A Disaster

PURVIS, Miss. – Elderly people, especially those with medical issues and limited mobility, can be especially vulnerable should a natural or manmade disaster strike.

Local, state and federal officials are urging all Americans, in particular the elderly, to review, update and rehearse their disaster plans.

Those living in a group setting, such as a nursing home or adult living facility, should speak with the administrator to learn about the specific disaster/evacuation plan for that facility.

There are three simple steps to disaster preparation: Make a kit, plan ahead and stay informed.

Your disaster emergency kit should include the supplies to last at least three days:

  • Water: at least one gallon per day per person for drinking and sanitation;
  • Food and utensils: foods that are ready to eat and not quickly perishable are ideal;
  • Blankets and extra clothing;
  • A first aid kit, including medical insurance and Medicaid cards;
  • A battery-powered  radio and/or a NOAA weather radio;
  • A flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Prescription medicines:  These should be rotated frequently and kept up to date;
  • Medical supplies: an extra pair of glasses, hearing-aid batteries and any other personally needed medical devices;
  • An emergency contact list: to reach family, friends and emergency numbers; and
  • Extra cash: access to banks and ATMs may be limited for a time.

Prepare your disaster action plan, review and practice it regularly. If you live alone, talk to your family or friends about preparing for emergencies, getting help in the event of an evacuation and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers who can help in an emergency. Discuss needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary medical equipment.

Arrange for electronic payments of federal benefits or other retirement income. A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks. Switching to electronic payments also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. The federal government recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

  • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option for people with bank accounts. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at www.godirect.org/.
  • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative topaper checks for people who don't have a bank account. Sign up is easy – call toll-freeat (877) 212-9991 or sign up online at http://www.usdirectexpress.com/edcfdtclient/index.html

Disaster-assistance grants are not considered taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Learn about what kinds of disasters are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Find out if your area is served by emergency radio and TV broadcasts. Other emergency alert methods might include a special siren, an automated telephone call or even a visit from emergency workers.

Emergency plans are normally established by state and local governments. County emergency management offices can supply the appropriate information. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency maintains a website with additional preparedness information at www.msema.org.

For more information on Mississippi’s disaster recovery, visit www.msema.org, www.fema.gov/disaster/4101 and www.fema.gov/blog.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.