A Case Study on Inclusive Disaster Preparedness Planning in Upstate New York

39 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2015

Date Written: January 27, 2015


In the spring of 2014 the Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Clinic (the Clinic) at Albany Law School, examined disaster planning in ten counties in upstate New York to evaluate the extent to which these counties were including individuals with disabilities in the disaster planning process, and in those counties where the inclusion of this population was not a part of disaster planning, to advocated for a more inclusive process.

History shows that individuals with disabilities are disproportionately harmed by disasters with a mortality rate that is two to four times higher for individuals with disabilities. Through a number of cases across the county and major disasters in the last few decades, big cities are developing a greater awareness that particular attention to the needs of individuals with disabilities is critical for the preparation, remediation and management of disasters. However, Disasters are not experienced in cities alone. Small towns, suburban areas and rural areas can experience disasters as well. In these regions, lack of planning can also have tragic results.

This article is broken into four parts. Part one contains a description of the Clinic’s project; part two addresses the legal issues. Part three reports on the information learned through the Clinic’s project and addresses why counties are facing possible litigation if they do not address the concerns identified and part four provides recommendations for how we might do better going forward. The aim of this article is to raise awareness and understanding, provide guidance for developing a municipal disaster preparedness process that is consistent with legal obligations created to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and recommend steps that will improve outcomes of future disasters.

Keywords: emergency management, disaster, disability, inclusive, Americans with Disabilities, discrimination

JEL Classification: I18, J71, K19, K32

Suggested Citation

Burke, Bridgit M., A Case Study on Inclusive Disaster Preparedness Planning in Upstate New York (January 27, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2556515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2556515

Bridgit M. Burke (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States
518 445 2328 (Phone)

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