Disaster Relief for Deaf Persons: Lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

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Barbara White


disaster preparedness, Hurricane Katrina, deaf organizations


Victims of disasters who are deaf face unique and insurmountable obstacles in accessing disaster relief.  The response to deaf disaster victims of Hurricane Katrina is an example of how the Federal government failed this population, particularly the community of Deaf African Americans who lived in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.  In the aftermath of this disaster, the natural helping networks of the deaf community and its organizations proved to be more effective than the organized relief agencies.  The author, a deaf social worker, spent two weeks in the Gulf region assisting deaf evacuees who fled both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita during the now infamous hurricanes of 2005.

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