Emergency Preparedness for Seniors
Lessons from Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina had a disproportionate impact on older Americans. Many New Orleans residents that did not evacuate prior to the storm were elderly individuals either not physically able to leave the city or lacking access to transportation. Additionally, it appears that evacuation plans at some nursing homes and other care facilities were ignored or never carried out -- 30 residents of a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish drowned in the flood waters. Regardless of whether it was lack of planning or lack of information that led to this tragic result, Senator Kohl believes we have an obligation to make sure it is not repeated in future disasters.
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Senator Kohl worked hard to successfully amend S. 4, Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, to include a provision in the bill that will ensure that public transportation workers are trained to meet the evacuation needs of seniors in the event of a crisis. Statistics show that a high percentage of seniors rely on public transportation. Furthermore, only public transportation has the capacity to move millions of people and provide first responders with critical support in major evacuations of urban areas. S. 4 passed by a vote of 60-38 on March 13, 2007.
For too long, the federal government has been ignoring warnings that we are dangerously unprepared for the serious threat of avian influenza. Many experts across the country are no longer asking if such a pandemic could occur; rather, they suggest that it is only a question of when it will occur. Scientists have indicated that two of three factors necessary for a flu pandemic already exist.
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