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GAO: Federal Evacuation Plans Ignore Nursing Homes

WASHINGTON, DC--The Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, said in a report last week that federal plans for evacuating seniors and people with disabilities during disasters do not address those housed in nursing homes.

According to the Associated Press, the GAO said the plans also fail to provide adequate transportation from such facilities. Instead, they address transportation after people have reached relocation centers or shelters.

The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security reportedly responded that state and local officials are responsible for evacuation plans when it comes to hospitals and nursing homes.

Scores of people with disabilities perished during and after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast last August. Many of those were in nursing homes and hospitals that were not evacuated before the storm hit, in some cases because of confusion over who was responsible, and in other cases because adequate transportation was not available.

Senator Charles Grassley, the Republican from Iowa who ordered the investigation, said: "This report outlines gaps in our disaster response system which may have contributed to some of the unconscionable situations during [Hurricane] Katrina in which nursing home residents and hospital patients were not evacuated."

Disaster plans don't address nursing homes (Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
People With Disabilities Among Hardest Hit By Hurricanes Katrina & Rita (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.

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