Joint Press

Collins, Casey Call on DHS, FEMA and HHS to Prioritize Older Americans in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Administration Must Act to Prevent Further Harm in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, called for a swift federal response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They wrote a letter urging the Administration to, in particular, take all available steps to act swiftly and prioritize seniors in the response to Hurricane Maria. The senators urged the federal agencies to prioritize not only patients in acute health care facilities, but individuals in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as seniors living at home.

“We urge the Administration to heed the lessons of the recent hurricane response efforts in Florida and Texas and take all available steps to prioritize seniors in the response to this devastating storm,” the senators wrote. “Seniors must be quickly identified and resources deployed to ensure that no older American is left in unbearable heat without air conditioning or without water and food as response efforts continue… During this recovery period, it is even more important to multiply our efforts and deploy sufficient resources to support and rescue seniors.”

Last week, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on disaster preparedness and response for older Americans, following the deaths of seniors in a Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma and the viral photo of seniors in an assisted living facility in Texas sitting in waist-deep water awaiting rescue after Hurricane Harvey.