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Helping disabled in the aftermath of Katrina

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    Helping disabled in the aftermath of Katrina

    This is an email that I received from Gary Karp.

    Dear Friends,

    People with disabilities affected by Katrina are not getting their critical needs met.

    Folks have lost wheelchairs, can't get access to important supplies or medications, and are at severe risk of infection and pressure sores.

    Despite the generosity of shelters and others around the country taking in Katrina refugees, few are thinking of the needs of those with disabilities.

    The advocacy community is working very hard and needs your support.

    I've included a release from Justice For All, a central disability information source. There are several options listed for how to contribute.

    Thanks so much for considering helping out with this dire problem.

    All best and blessings,


    Updated breaking news from the California SILC -- September 8, 2005

    During the past 10 days, people with disabilities and the organizations
    they work with across the country have rallied to assist the survivors of
    Hurricane Katrina. Mainstream relief efforts have been supplemented by
    donations of durable medical equipment and goods to meet the needs of
    thousands of individuals who were disabled during or prior to the
    disaster. Requests for used wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes
    have resulted in large numbers of such items arriving in the cities where
    shelters are set up, and hundreds of items have been distributed to those
    who need them. Many more are still enroute.

    Several charitable organizations in the U.S. distribute thousands of new
    and refurbished wheelchairs to impoverished people in developing
    countries each year. Many of them have redirected their efforts this
    past week to assist the Hurricane Katrina survivors in our own country. Included in this category are Wheels for Humanity, the Wheelchair
    Foundation, Wheels for the World, and Hope Haven International, who have collectively shipped over 1500 new or reconditioned mobility devices to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The attached message provides more
    details about that effort.

    Other groups that have made significant contributions are the Texas Rehab
    Providers Council (TXRPC) and manufacturers like Invacare, Pride and
    Sunrise Medical. TXRPC members have delivered and fitted over 200
    wheelchairs for shelter occupants, and as of yesterday evening the Texas
    State Emergency Operations Center advised that no additional standard
    wheelchairs were needed at Texas shelters. The manufacturers listed have
    also delivered over 300 new wheelchairs or electric scooters. Our local
    chapter of Lions International has even offered to donate about 1,000
    pairs of used eyeglasses, reconditioned with prescriptions marked, to an
    organization that would distribute and fit them to survivors.

    The larger shelters are being down-sized and closed, with occupants being
    dispersed throughout the communities where they are located. The search
    for missing family members, housing and other items needed to reestablish
    their lives is facing survivors now. Many have nothing left to return to
    in the disaster zone, and may become permanent residents of their host
    cities or states. The impact on local disability and senior service
    agencies is significant, and will continue to be for months. Affordable,
    and accessible, housing was scarce before the hurricane, but the Centers
    for Independent Living (CIL) and their community partners will continue
    to seek out housing options. Benefits planners, peer counselors and
    other staff will be deluged by requests for assistance from the survivors.

    Lex Frieden, Chair of the National Council on Disability, today
    recommended that the collection and shipment of used wheelchairs and
    similar items be suspended until the exact needs for specific items are
    identified. It appears that over 2,000 wheelchairs are still in the
    'pipeline' for delivery to the Gulf states, and needs at shelter sites
    have already been met (see attached).

    In California, we are continuing our collection efforts through local
    Independent Living Centers, but will not be shipping out of state until
    we hear more. I would like to thank Pride Industries, FedEx, BNSF
    Railroad and Wheels for Humanity for their generous offers to assist with
    collection and shipping from California. Durable medical goods, like
    catheters, adult diapers, bed pads and urinary drain bags, will continue
    to be needed, but don't mix them in with other goods like used clothing.

    Before any additional items are shipped to the Gulf Coast states, please
    coordinate with a local CIL or similar agency to assure that the shipment
    is needed, and that storage space is available locally. It takes a lot
    of energy, time and money to unload and store these donated goods.

    Important! Financial assistance is a huge and ongoing need. Local CILs
    and similar agencies may need to hire extra staff or pay overtime to meet
    the need, and survivors with disabilities may not have immediate access
    to funding for rental deposits, household goods or medications until FEMA
    funds and other federal resources are distributed. Contribution checks
    should be mailed to the CILs or Statewide Independent Living Councils in
    the disaster zone (check address list at, and contributions
    using credit cards can be made through the California Foundation for
    Independent Living Centers ( ). Such donations will reach the
    people with disabilities who really need them.

    Thanks are due to all for your great wave of generosity, and more news
    will be shared as it happens.

    Mike Collins, Executive Director
    CA State Independent Living Council
    1600 K St, Suite 100
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Toll-free: 866-866-7452
    Fax: 916-445-5973
    TTY: 866-7452-889 (toll-free)

    Date: September 8, 2005

    From: David Richard

    Re: Katrina Wheelchair Update

    We have received many requests for wheelchairs and ambulatory aid
    equipment. As many of you know we refurbish rehabilitation equipment to
    industry standards and re-ship this equipment outside the United States.
    Medical manufacturers donate equipment to us under an agreement that we
    do not redistribute inside the United States. This is due to product
    liability issues. However, Sunrise Medical, Carlsbad, CA. has just
    donated 100 new wheelchairs to Wheels for Humanity to be earmarked to
    Katrina disaster relief. Wheels for Humanity is partnering with Operation
    USA to facilitate the shipping and delivery of these wheelchairs.

    Attached is updated information on a few agencies that we collaborate
    with that are shipping and distributing wheelchairs and ambulatory aid
    equipment to Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

    Hope Haven International
    As of September 8, 2005, Hope Haven International has shipped 466 new
    wheelchairs to Shreveport, Louisiana. These wheelchairs were purchased
    from Drive Medical Inc. Hope Haven is partnering with Samaritans Purse
    to facilitate the distribution of these wheelchairs.

    Wheelchair Foundation
    As of September 10, 2005, the Wheelchair Foundation has shipped over 800
    new wheelchairs to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas with the assistance
    of Imperial Palace Charities, Marriott and Swift Trucking. The Florida,
    Nevada and California offices responded immediately with all of their
    available wheelchair supplies. 200 of these wheelchairs are being
    consigned to the Independent Living Center in Houston. An additional
    2000 new wheelchairs will be ordered during the next month and will be
    designated to the affected areas.
    Tom Hafford - President - Texas Rehab Providers Council (TXRPC)
    I spoke with Tom Hafford this morning. TXRPC members have delivered 200+ wheelchairs in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Rehab dealers were among the first to respond to the call for wheelchairs at the Houston Astrodome and delivered donated transport chairs to the evacuee centers in Dallas and San Antonio. Additional wheelchairs have been donated by Invacare and Pride to the major shelters in Houston and Dallas. As of 5:00 p.m.
    September 7, Texas Emergency State Operation Center reports that there is
    NO additional call for standard wheelchairs at any of the Texas centers.
    Tom stated that children with Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida are being
    seen and evaluated by rehab dealers on an individual basis. Tom also
    noted that Medicare has relaxed some restrictions on paperwork.

    Joni and Friends Wheels for the World
    As of September 8, 2005, Joni and Friends have shipped 350 wheelchairs to
    Louisiana. They are partnering with the Salvation Army and local churches
    distributing these wheelchairs on a need to need bases.

    Submitted by; David Richard
    Date: September, 8, 2005

    Fred Fay, Moderator

    JUSTICE FOR ALL -- A Service of the
    American Association of People with Disabilities

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