Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
Volume # 9
September 2017

Table of Contents

satellite view of a hurricane. it shows the eye of the storm and then surrounded by red, yellow, and green for the intensity of the storm.
A note from Matt.....

Disaster planning and dealing with the aftermath is always a challenge for persons with disabilities.  While many people evacuated, many persons with disabilities were afraid to do so because of the inadequacies of shelters and the unavailability of accessible accommodations.  Further, for those who stayed, the lack of power turned apartments and houses into saunas and prisons.  We need to do better.  This month's newsletter contains resources for help to recover from the hurricane.  If you need help, please call or email us.

satellite view of a hurricane. it shows the eye of the storm and then surrounded by red, yellow, and green for the intensity of the storm.

Making your home and property accessible for persons with disabilities following a hurricane

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FEMA Disaster Assistance

If your county receives an Individual Assistance designation, these FEMA Programs are available to those who are eligible. You are eligible if you are a disaster-impacted individual with expenses not covered by insurance.
Individuals and Households Program
Housing Assistance provides financial and/or direct assistance to eligible disaster survivors who have necessary expenses and serious needs unmet through other resources, such as insurance. 
  • Financial Housing Assistance can include Rental Assistance, Lodging Expense Reimbursement, Home Repair Assistance, and Home Replacement Assistance.
  • Direct Housing Assistance can include Manufactured Housing Units, Multi-Family Lease and Repair, and Permanent or Semi-Permanent Housing Construction.
Other Needs Assistance provides financial assistance to individuals and households who have other disaster-related necessary expenses such as medical, childcare, funeral, personal property, and transportation costs. The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Disaster Assistance Program provides low-interest, long-term loans to those impacted by a declared disaster.
Crisis Counseling Assistance & Training Program assists in recovery from the effects of a disaster through community based outreach and psycho-educational services.
Disaster Case Management involves creating a Disaster Recovery Plan together with a disaster case manager to reach disaster recovery by meeting unmet needs through available resources.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed because of the disaster and who are not eligible for regular State unemployment insurance.
Disaster Legal Services provides legal assistance to low-income individuals who are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their disaster related needs.
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Need help with Assistive Technology FAAST can help.

1-844-FL-FAAST (353-2278)


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Volunteer Florida

Volunteer Florida is coordinating free assistance for tree removal, tarping roofs, removing drywall, and more. 


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What should you do about Mold?

H ow c an I t ell if th e re is mold in my hom e?
Indoor mold growth can usually be seen or smelled. Look for visible mold growth as it may look cottony,velvety,rough, or leathery and have different colors like white, gray, brown, black,yellow, or green. Mold often appears as a staining or fuzzy growth on furniture or building materials, such as walls,ceilings, or anything made of wood or paper. Look for signs of moisture or water damage, such as water leaks, standing water,water stains, and condensation. Check around air handling units, such as air conditioners and furnaces,for standing water.Routinely inspect the evaporator coils,liner surfaces,drain pans,and drain lines.Search areas where you notice mold odors.If you can smell an earthy or musty odor, you may have a mold problem.
W ho is most affected by mold?
Infants, children, elderly, individuals with chronic respiratory conditions, and persons with weakened immune systems m a ybe affected sooner and more severely than others. Those with concerns should consult a medical doctor if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.
H ow should mold be cl ea n ed?
M o ld should be cleaned as soon as it appears. Persons who clean the mold should be free of symptoms and allergies.Small areas of mold should be cleaned using detergent/soapy water or a commercial mildew or mold cleaner. Ozone generators do not need be used. Gloves and safety goggles should be worn during cleaning.The cleaned area should then be thoroughly dried.Throw away any sponges or rags used to clean mold. If the mold returns quickly or spreads,it may mean you have an underlying problem, such as a water leak. Any water leaks must first be fixed when solving mold problems.

  • Remove standing water from your home or office.
  • Remove wet materials.
  • If mold growth has already occurred, carefully remove or clean the moldy material. 
  • Consider using personal protective equipment when cleaning or removing mold, such as gloves and goggles.
  • Individuals with known mold allergies or asthma should not clean or remove moldy materials.
 When using cleaners, make sure you read and follow label instructions carefully and open windows and doors to provide plenty of fresh air.
Do not mix bleach with ammonia cleaners or acids because a dangerous gas will be formed.
red triangle with a skull and crossbones with the letters CO inside and then the words Danger Carbon monoxide
What should you do about Carbon Monoxide?

What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is highly poisonous by interfering with the delivery of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body.
What are the major sources of CO?
Items that use coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas, propane, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and heating oil for fuel, such as portable generators, small gasoline engines, charcoal grills, gas stoves, portable fuel-powered space heaters, automobile exhaust from attached garages, and even smoking tobacco produce CO. Problems can arise because of improper placement, installation, operation, and maintenance of CO generating devices or appliances.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pain for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, abdominal pain, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death.
What should you do if you think you have CO poisoning?
Don't ignore symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling ill. Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside the home or building immediately and seek prompt medical attention.
If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safer location such as outside or a neighbor's home. Call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222 for additional information and advice about CO poisoning.

Do not use ovens and gas ranges to heat your home. Do not leave a car or lawn mower engine running in a shed or garage, or in any enclosed or partially enclosed space. ALWAYS install battery-powered or plug-in CO alarm (with battery backup) in your home.
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  filcFlorida Independent Living Council

The Florida Independent Living Council advances civil rights of people with disabilities through advocating systemic change.

color coded map of florida that shows different colors for each center for independent living.
Do you know about your local independent living centers?

Centers for Independent Living are community-based, cross-disability, non-profit organizations that are designed and operated by people with disabilities. CILs are unique in that they operate according to a strict philosophy of consumer control, wherein people with all types of disabilities directly govern and staff the organization. Centers for Independent Living Provide:
  • Peer Support
  • Information and Referral
  • Individual and Systems Advocacy
  • Independent Living Skills Training
  • Transition
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Florida Bar Help Line.

A legal aid hotline is
now available for Hurricane Irma survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney: 1-866-550-2929.   The hotline operates through a partnership between The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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MiA Miami Inclusion Alliance
By: Sharon Langer 

I want to share an article from the New York Times that gives us a window into the considerations that may be overlooked when we prepare for a storm and its aftermath. Please read below and I welcome your comments.

Amid Hurricane Chaos, Domestic Abuse Victims Risk Being Overlooked

I believe this is a training issue for emergency staff and DIG and our partners at the Miami Inclusion Alliance will work towards making sure that our domestic violence staff is connected to those who provide emergency services for all future storms. I hope that as we evaluate this latest storm we will not hear the stories described above. 
Lucy sitting on a red chair with her head tilted.
  Lucille's Wall 
By: Lucy 

Thoughts after Hurricane Irma

I want to start this article by saying that I hope all of our newsletter readers that were effected by Hurricane Irma are safe and recovering well after the storm.

Hurricane Irma was a whirlwind of emotions for me, especially given my strong sense of danger. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. As this was my first hurricane, I had no idea what to expect but I knew it was nothing to mess with after seeing the devastating outcome of Hurricane Harvey. I also hope those victims are safe as well.
Part of those emotions, had to do with my concern for what would happen to my clients- would they be permitted in shelters, hotels and other accommodations and would their companions know what to say to get them in the shelters, hotels and other accommodations. I was also concerned about my brothers and sisters that are not my clients...yet.

While I was preparing for the storm, a friend of our office shared a heartwarming story how people were going out of their way to help my brothers and sisters evacuate for the storm. Around the same time, I came across a heart wrenching story that animal officials reported finding 51 of my brothers and sisters chained to trees and parked cars in Palm Beach County just as Hurricane Irma's outer bands were inch closer to making land fall in Florida.

This is truly unacceptable and that State Attorney, Dave Aronberg, agreed. Mr. Aronberg and the Director of Animal Care, Diane Suave, have promised to prosecute anyone who left their animals outside to fend for themselves during Hurricane Irma.

For more on the story see:

We are still in the midst of hurricane season and I think it is important for my clients and their companions to know their rights, please contact our office with any questions!
Lorinda in front of a cabinet in her home.

Hurricane Irma - Tips and Tricks for Storm Prep
This year almost the entire state of Florida was effected by Hurricane Irma, a storm that changed its course almost daily and left Floridians scared and confused. Many residents reminisced about past monster storms including the infamous Andrew that permanently frightened many.  As a person who uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility, the idea of a storm hitting my hometown was nerve wrecking. I've been through hurricanes before, so the idea of being without power and not being able to charge my chair for an unknown amount of time was alarming. I decided to breakdown each one of my needs, create an action plan, and manage all of the resources I had at hand to prepare as best as possible. Thankfully, while challenging, things turned out well for us.
Home care Assistance
One of my first concerns was how to ensure I had a personal care assistant who would be able to assist me during and after the storm. Hurricanes cause a great deal of flooding and wind damage, which can make it difficult for personal care assistants to get to us. I decided to have a conversation with my pca's and choose one to stay with me during the duration of the storm. She agreed, and we compensated her for her time. Having someone with me during the storm created a great sense of calmness and security.
Service Dog
My second concern was how we would take Remy, my service dog, out to relieve himself during or after the storm if there was flooding. While we ended up deciding to evacuate to Georgia, we had a plan in place if we stayed. Amazon sells a very interesting grassy 'patch' that dogs can use to relieve themselves indoors. There are different versions, but the idea is to provide dogs a portable area that can be used indoors safely during a storm. Here's a link to one option: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI
To Evacuate or Stay
Making a decision to evacuate is difficult. Shelters are uncomfortable and hotels are costly. While we decided to leave the state, it was not without a lot of pre-planning and saving of funds. When I heard that a storm would hit, I researched a hotel in Georgia and booked it immediately. I chose a Red Roof Inn because their cancellation policy to avoid being charged is to cancel the day of check-in by 6:00 pm, they offered a roll-in shower, and free coffee 24/7 - a personal bonus! The flexible check in really helped in case we had to change our dates due to the storm, and while it's not the fanciest of hotels, Red Roof offers a comfortable price point, which is especially great when it's a last minute trip.
With my home care assistant in place and my service dog taken care of, the rest of our hurricane prep was ordinary. Lots of water, non perishable food, medications for at least a week, etc.  The storm was rough but I feel significantly more prepared this time around and confident that if we get hit again, we'll be even more ready.

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wallet The Wallet Card Project
By: Deborah Dietz 

The wallet card is a tool for young adults or adults to use when come into contact with law enforcement; either as a victim, a witness, or as a potential suspect.

The wallet card will help to clarify any interaction with law enforcement so that the behavior of the person with a disability is not misinterpreted as suspicious or as criminal behavior.

Click here to sign up for a wallet card

The Wallet Card Project is a collaboration with DIG, CGPD, and UM-NSU CARD.
The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi
Your Upward Journey

In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.

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A Parcel of Penguins

A PARCEL OF PENGUINS: an Animal Counting Book is a Children's book that teaches unusual names of groups of animals. The book is entertaining and informative for all ages. 
Click here to purchase the book
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For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our Executive Director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or debbie@justdigit.org.

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Person with Disabilities
Thank you to the organizations that support our projects.
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Disability Independence Group | 305-669-2822 | info@justdigit.org