"I work with people with disabilities, especially people who cannot feed themselves. When the water poured in from the the ocean, everything changed.
In the rush to save who and what can be saved this group is often overlooked. It's people with very special needs, different from the needs of the average disaster victim. If you have a person with colostomy, his or her needs are urgent and very important to attend to, but we have so much equipment that has been washed away or damaged by sea water, that it makes the task very difficult. In some cases we had to mix and match whatever equipment was available, leaving people in great discomfort.
Now we have put together a large group of 100 students, who everyday comb through the evacuation centers to identify people with special needs, or hear from people that might know of other people in need. Our goal is to build a map of all the evacuation centers in this area, and the specific needs at each center. This will make it a lot faster to allocate resources as they become available. But it's detective work trying to figure out who is where, and it takes a long time.
Before all this happened we were so used to everything working that I would never have imagined to have to do all these things we spent day and night on now. But there are many people in need, and of course the needs of disabled people are not all as visible as others
Because of the situation, sometimes we see people needing urgent attention, and all we can do is get people to the closest emergency facility with some equipment and hope it's compatible. It's incredibly frustrating not to be able to do more."
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