Disaster plan for disabled nearly complete

MARIETTA – The final draft of a disaster plan for those in the community with disabilities was approved Thursday afternoon at WASCO and should be available later this month.

The development of the plan is a joint operation between the Washington County Emergency Management Agency and the City of Marietta Commission on Disabilities.

For some time, residents had been bringing the need for something like this to his attention, said David Long, chairman of the commission on disabilities.

“Years ago people from several different agencies kept asking me why there wasn’t a disaster plan for people with disabilities,” he said. “When the commission began I realized this was a good project to start working on.”

The two entities worked on the project for about a year, said Jeff Lauer, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency.

“We tried to reduce the bulk of this disaster plan for those with disabilities,” he said. “We have it down to four pages that contain larger print, a safety checklist and picture art to help identify key things.”

Long said he believes the simplistic design of the book is a huge benefit to those with certain disabilities in the community.

“The pictures are very instrumental in the safety design because there are some people with disabilities that can’t even read,” Long said. “The book has helpful tips including to call the EMA in case of an emergency and always keep a bag ready with items like water and food that are necessary for survival.”

Long wants those with disabilities to understand this plan is valid for any kind of natural disaster or other emergency.

“This is something that can be used in case of a flood, snowstorm or even a power outage,” Long said.

The disaster plan is being completely funded by the general budget of the Emergency Management Agency.

“This is something that I feel is incredibly important for members in the community with disabilities,” Lauer said. “The committee did the hard part and developed the content, the least I can do is provide the funding for such a worthwhile project.”

The design of the book will be similar to a notebook with a spiral binder on the side and it will be available at organizations that work with disabled community members, such as WASCO.

“We want to make sure that the people with disabilities are the ones that have access to this book,” Long said.

Pending any setbacks in production the first prints of the disaster plan should be available sometime this month.

“A safe time frame for us to iron out the final payment details and have them printed and ready to ship is about two or three weeks,” Lauer said.