Hurricane Ike knocked out power to some parts of Houston for as long as two weeks. And while that’s a big inconvenience if you’re ‘not’ disabled…try dealing with it when you absolutely need electricity to survive.
“For people who depend on the pumps, their ventilators, their power wheelchairs — disaster can be defined in much different terms.”
Dr. Lex Frieden is a professor at the UT School of Health Information Sciences at Houston. The school asked 30-thousand disabled Houstonians what they went through after Ike.
“Some say they had to scramble for portable generators…while others ran out of medicine and food, even though they had prepared for the storm.”
Frieden says the key lesson for the disabled and their families is to brace themselves for an even longer wait before things return to normal following hurricanes in the future.
“They have to think in terms not of 3 days, but in terms of 10 days, when they think about stockpiling medication, food, water, figuring out alternative sources of power.”
Dr. Frieden says he can’t document any cases where any disabled people died as a direct result of the power outages from Ike. He adds that he has already presented his preliminary findings to local utility agencies and the City of Houston, in hopes that they’ll provide more storm shelters for people whose lives depend on an uninterrupted supply of electricity.