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How People with Disabilities Can Prepare for Emergencies

October 17, 2019
Press Release

New York, NY, Oct. 17, 2019—INCLUDEnyc hosted a live stream with the NYC Emergency Management Department to discuss how people with disabilities can prepare for coastal or winter storms, hurricanes, and other emergencies. 

INCLUDEnyc’s Senior Family Educator Ruth DiRoma spoke with Matthew Puvogel, Community Engagement Coordinator at NYC Emergency Management, about how to create an individual emergency plan, prepare personal and medical supplies, and find out whether you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. Puvogel stressed the importance of having an emergency plan before an emergency happens.

“With this live stream, INCLUDEnyc aims to connect young people with disabilities to resources and strategies to stay safe during extreme weather events and other emergencies,” said Ruth DiRoma, Senior Family Educator at INCLUDEnyc, a non-profit helping young people with disabilities and their families navigate special education and disability services.

“My Emergency Plan” is a workbook designed by the City’s Emergency Management Department to assist New Yorkers with disabilities, and access and functional needs, which is available in audio format and in 13 languages. The document is critical for people with disabilities, especially those living in evacuation zones vulnerable to coastal flooding, which includes parts of lower Manhattan, Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Staten Island. NYC Emergency Management also provides preparedness information in braille. In addition to “My Emergency Plan” workbook, New Yorkers can download the Ready NYC app ― available for Apple and Android devices ― which is accessible for people who are blind or have low-vision, to make an emergency plan.

View the live stream and resource packet with “Emergency Plan” workbook.

Matthew Puvogel made several recommendations for people with disabilities, including identifying primary contacts starting with family and friends, preparing supplies for yourself and your service animal, and discussing evacuation plans with your landlord or building management, and family. Puvogel noted that in the event individuals are unable to stay with friends or family members during a mandatory evacuation, the City opens accessible hurricane evacuation centers for all New Yorkers. The hurricane evacuation centers can provide critical supplies for people with disabilities, including mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers, refrigeration for vital prescriptions like insulin, and charging stations for electric wheelchairs and communication devices. Everyone can find his or her nearest evacuation center or receive additional information about his or her nearest evacuation center by visiting or calling 311. 

New Yorkers can sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free, official source for information about emergency events and important City services. From issues like traffic delays and transit disruptions, hurricanes and coastal flooding, users can customize the types of alerts they would like to receive and select preferred ZIP codes. Messages are available in American Sign Language (ASL) and are accessible for those who are blind or have low-vision.

The opt-in SMS service is just one of many ways people can stay informed with Notify NYC. New Yorkers can download the Notify NYC mobile application, which is available for free for Apple and Android devices. To learn more about the Notify NYC program or to sign up, visit, call 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115), or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.

This live stream is a part of a series in partnership with Advocates for Children, Sinergia, and the Long Island Advocacy Center.