Being Disabled and Poor in New Orleans

by Marta Russell
ZNet Daily Commentaries
September 25, 2005

If you are disabled and rich or somewhat well-off and lived in New Orleans you probably got out of the city before the levees broke and flooded some 60% of the parishes. If you are rich and use a wheelchair you probably had a van with a ramp or car of your own with gas money to get you to safety. If you are blind you likely had a driver with a car to take you to the high lands. If you are deaf, use a cane, walker, crutches, service animal, or have mental health needs and you have money, you also got yourself out perhaps with the help of family. But if you are disabled and poor in New Orleans you likely had none of these options. A 911 caller told the operator "I am handicapped and have an 8 month old baby. We are lying on the bed…. the water is coming up fast. We need help." But no help came. No help came because there was no planned evacuation for poor disabled residents. Being disabled and poor meant one's chances for survival were less than one's nondisabled counterparts. While many of the least fortunate were waiting and hoping for the absent cavalry to arrive on those rooftops at least one quadriplegic could not be pulled up on the roof to semi-safety. He drowned instead. There were others. We know that in New Orleans 23.2 percent of residents were disabled persons out of a city of about 484,000 people. There were 102,122 disabled people 5 years of age and older who lived in New Orleans at the time of the flood. [...] Read the rest at: http://tinyurl.com/bcrr9

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