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Hurricane Katrina and Disability: Who Is Helping — and What They Need

Who Is Helping?

Organizations Targeting Relief Assistance to People with Disabilities

Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago


Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago has established a Hurricane Katrina Community Reintegration Project to assist hurricane survivors with disabilities relocated to Chicago, many of whom have been placed in inappropriate institutional settings. The project consists of a relief fund of approximately $5,000 per person and critical services and supports; these will enable survivors to leave and/or avoid institutional placements and live independently in the community. Typical services include the provision of the first month’s rent and security deposit, assistive technology and equipment, furniture and household items, modifications to existing housing to ensure accessibility, and referral to a personal assistant.

Advocacy, Inc. (AI)


Advocacy, Inc., has and continues to conduct outreach activities to identify and address the needs of people with disabilities who have been displaced by the hurricanes (now in Texas).  For the next 12 to 18 months, AI staff will continue to provide advocacy and legal services related to the disability needs of hurricane evacuees.  AI is seeking funds to provide certified interpreters.

AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families


AIDS Alliance has established the Katrina AIDS Alliance Emergency Fund to support the emergency needs of families and young people living with HIV/AIDS served by Ryan White Act Title IV programs in Louisiana and Mississippi. Funds will be disbursed through local programs.

American Association on Mental Retardation


The American Association on Mental Retardation has established the AAMR Katrina Relief Fund to support the efforts of its affiliates and other disability organizations working on direct relief for people with disabilities, their families and front-line workers affected by Hurricane Katrina. Contributions can be made to the AAMR Katrina Relief Fund/Power of One Campaign.

American Council of the Blind


The American Council of the Blind has set up a relief fund to support the efforts of its affiliates and chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas that are directly assisting Katrina hurricane victims who are blind and visually impaired. It has also established a “Check-in Line” for people who are blind or visually impaired to list their name, location and needs.

Brookhaven Homes of Louisiana, Inc.

Brookhaven Homes of Lousiana is providing volunteer work crews to assist families with restoring their homes to a safe and functional condition.  Brookhaven is then assisting individuals with a plan for recovery and restoration.  Services are provided within the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, which includes the east and west bank parishes of Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard.

California Foundation for Independent Living


The California Foundation for Independent Living has established a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to provide support for the independent living centers affected by Hurricane Katrina, including those in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. It is expected that most donations will come from California and surrounding areas.

Children with Diabetes Foundation


The Children with Diabetes Foundation is raising funds to pay for diabetic supplies and distribution efforts for Katrina Victims. It is collaborating with the organization dLife (www.dlife.com), which is collecting diabetic supplies (insulin, medications, meters, strips, insulin delivery, etc.). Financial contributions should be sent to CWDF, and donations of supplies to dLife.

Coalition for Barrier-Free Living/Houston Center for Independent Living (HCIL)


HCIL is using funds to assist hurricane evacuees with disabilities reestablish their independence in their new community.  Funds will be used to purchase necessary start-up furniture, pay telephone deposits, provide accessible transportation and provide other necessary services through the center.

Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities


The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities is working to replenish food, supply emergency kits and provide disaster preparedness training.

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD)


CSD-Texas is providing interpreting for deaf hurricane evacuees and their families relocated to Texas.

de l’Epee Deaf Center, Inc.


The center will be providing medicine, assistive devices, food and clothing to deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who reside in the Katrina-affected areas of South Mississippi.

Disabled American Veterans


The Disabled American Veterans is collecting funds to provide grants to disabled veterans and their families affected by Katrina. Grants will be used to purchase food, clothing and temporary shelter, or to obtain relief from injury, illness or personal loss not covered by insurance or other disaster relief agencies.

Easter Seals


Easter Seals, which serves more than 70,000 people from the Gulf Coast region, has established a Gulf Coast Disaster Fund to meet the needs of its clients affected by Katrina.

Exceeds Their Needs, Inc. (ETN)

Monies will be used to provide case management and stipends to evacuees who wish to return to greater New Orleans.   ETN will assist individuals with disabilities and their families by providing case management services to assist with housing and disaster relief and to provide small stipends to be used for food and transportation.

Exceptional Nurse.com


Nurses with disabilities who reside in areas affected by Katrina will be provided with financial assistance to use for housing, utilities, relocation expenses, durable medical equipment and/or assistive technology.

Families Helping Families of Acadiana


Families Helping Families of Acadiana is working with evacuees with developmental disabilities and those with psychiatric disabilities in order for them to obtain medical equipment and medications.  Families Helping Families will also be assisting evacuees obtain long-term resources to be used for housing, utilities, clothing and food.

Families Helping Families at the Crossroads of Louisiana (FHF – Crossroads)


FHF – Crossroads is working to meet the immediate needs (diapers, clothing, medical equipment) of individuals with disabilities who were affected by the hurricanes.

Family Voices


Family Voices has set up a Families Helping Families Hurricane Relief Fund to meet the needs of children and youth with special health needs and their families affected by Katrina. The funds will pay for items and services such as antibacterial wipes, diapers, phone cards, medical care, cash for medications, gas and food, rent, toys and clothing. Funds will be sent to volunteer family leaders “on the ground” who will provide affected families with these needed goods and services and help them negotiate housing, education, insurance, etc., issues.

*Gulf Coast Teaching Family Services, Inc.


Gulf Coast Teaching Family Services is working to assist persons with disabilities displaced by Hurricane Katrina to return to the New Orleans area.  They are looking for funds for start-up costs for individuals to be able to move into apartments or houses.

*Lighthouse for the Blind in New Orleans


The Lighthouse provides services to people who are blind or have visual impairments by providing jobs, job-training and services.  They are working to restart services at the Lighthouse following the hurricanes and are looking for funds for transportation.

*LATAN (Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network)


LATAN is seeking donations of assistive technology devices for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina to use in shelters, hotels and temporary residence, and eventually take with them to permanent homes.

*Louisiana Center for the Blind
[National Federation for the Blind of Florida as conduit]



The Louisiana Center for the Blind is providing housing, clothing and food to blind people from the Gulf Coast Region affected by Katrina. The National Federation for the Blind of Florida is collecting funds to support the work of the center.

*Louisiana School for the Deaf


The Louisiana School for the Deaf, located in Baton Rouge and itself unscathed by the hurricane, has established a hurricane fund for LSD students and their families affected by Katrina as well as deaf people rendered homeless by the hurricane seeking temporary shelter and services at the school. Collaborating with a variety of local agencies, LSD will use the funds for transportation, food, clothing and toiletries for evacuees.

The Lupus Support Network


The network will be assisting lupus patients who were affected by the hurricanes and have no other means of paying for medications and/or treatment by local rheumatologists.

Lutheran Social Services of the South


All of the monies will be used to purchase medical equipment and assistive technology for evacuees with disabilities who relocated to Texas.

*T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability


T.K. Martin Center is working to deliver and repair assistive technology to individuals with disabilities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

*Mid-Alabama Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities

Mid-Alabama Coalition is using funds to provide emergency assistance with housing, durable medical equipment, and transition expenses.  Priority for assistance will be given to individuals who moved from community living into nursing homes (because of health problems caused or exacerbated by the evacuation and/or because they needed to seccure emergency shelter).  Funds will also be used to prevent nursing home placement for community evacuees who face institutionalization b/c of a lack of community supports in the aftermath of the storms.eds for housing accommodations.

Muscular Dystrophy Association


The Muscular Dystrophy Association is assisting people with progressive neuromuscular disabilities, such as muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and their families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Services include emergency repairs of wheelchairs and leg braces, loans of crucial assistive equipment, such as wheelchairs, mechanical lifts, communication devices and hospital beds, and medical assistance at MDA clinics and MDA/ALS centers where evacuees are temporarily located.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill


The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has established the NAMI Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina with serious mental illnesses and their families.

National Association of the Deaf


The National Association of the Deaf has formed the NAD Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to directly aid deaf and hard of hearing Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina. The fund will be used to assist organizations and schools that are providing resources to feed, clothe and shelter displaced deaf and hard-of-hearing survivors and their families and to enable communication access to needed programs and services.

National Autism Association


The Autism Association is collecting funds to help hurricane victims with autism. Funds will go to its Helping Hand program to assist displaced families.

National Autism Organizations

The National Autism Organizations are partnering to form AutismCares (www.AutismCares.org) to provide assistance to families dealing with autism who are affected by Hurricane Katrina. They are collecting funds and in-kind donations and are connecting affected families with professionals who can help address their needs.

National Black Deaf Advocates


National Black Deaf Advocates is collecting Disaster Relief Funds to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing victims of Hurricane Katrina. These funds are specifically earmarked for members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing, and Sign Language interpreting community.

National Council on Independent Living


The National Council on Independent Living has established a Katrina Disaster Relief Fund to assist the Gulf Coast Independent Living Centers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which have been severely damaged or totally destroyed. Funds will be used to rebuild the centers and enable them to gear up to meet the extensive needs of people with disabilities in their areas.

National Down Syndrome Society


The National Down Syndrome Society has established the Katrina Fund for the Down Syndrome Community, which is a temporary fund to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans, the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society and the Mobile Area Down Syndrome Support Group. Funds will be distributed to the affiliate groups in the affected areas; these will decide how best to support local people with Down syndrome and their families. The deadline to contribute to the fund is September 30th.

National Hemophilia Association


The National Hemophilia Association has set up a Hurricane Katrina Relief Program to assist people with bleeding or clotting disorders affected by Katrina. The organization is serving as a conduit for services and clearinghouse for information and resources as well as assisting local affiliates and relevant agencies to provide hurricane victims with needed treatment, prescriptions and assistance with basic living services.

National MS Society


The National MS Society has established a Special Emergency Assistance Fund to assist people with MS and their families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Contributions to this fund via the Web will be received by the Louisiana Chapter and distributed throughout the disaster area to people with MS.

St. Tammany ARC


Monies will be used to assist individuals with disabilities and their families whose lives were drastically impacted by Hurricane Katrina.  Monies will be used to set up FEMA trailers (utility deposits, purchase linen and bedding, food, toiletry items, kitchen utensils, etc.) and to assist individuals in rebuilding and revitalizing their communities.

Seaside Community Foundation


The foundation, located in Florida, is stepping outside of its mission parameters to provide aid in the form of transitional housing for disabled persons affected by the hurricanes in Mississippi.

Self Help for the Hard of Hearing


Self Help for the Hard of Hearing, recognizing that for thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims who are hard of hearing, the struggle to survive is compounded by difficulties communicating with relief, emergency and other disaster personnel, has established the hear2care project (www.hearingloss.org/hear2care/index.html) to assist those who rely on hearing aids or cochlear implants for their communication needs, or who need some type of hearing assistance technology. The project will provide batteries to those who have hearing aids and cochlear implants, to effect emergency hearing aid repair, and to provide personal hearing assistive devices to those who have a significant hearing loss, but who do not have a hearing aid.

SpellCo Redevelopment Corporation


SpellCo will use monies to provide accessible computer and internet access to individuals with disabilities displaced to the Houston area.  Computer and internet access will enable these persons to do job searches, find displaced and/or missing loved ones, type and print resumes, etc.  SpellCo will also use its lab to provide training in computer programs.

Spina Bifida Association of America


The Spina Bifida Association of America has established the SB-HELP Hurricane Emergency Life-Support Program to meet the needs of people with spina bifida affected by Hurricane Katrina, estimated to be as many as 10,000. The focus is on providing life-saving medical supplies and critical services. SBA is working with industry, including Colorplast Corporation, Teleflx Medical, RUSCH, and UroMed to secure essential equipment for distribution through its chapters in the affected areas. It also plans to develop emergency preparedness programs to prepare people with spina bifida for future emergencies.

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Support, Inc.


SMA Support Inc. has set up a Katrina Disaster Fund to assist families dealing with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease similar to ALS, that have been affected by Katrina. Funds will be used to provide medical supplies, such as filters, syringes, tubing, masks, feeding pumps and bags, and special formulas, as well as to cover basic necessities such as food, water and gas.

TBI Family Services, Inc.


TBI Family Services, Inc., will be assisting in making temporary ADA-compliant modifications to FEMA-supplied trailers while planning permanent ADA-compliant home modification solutions when rebuilding personal residences.

TDI (formerly Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.)


TDI has established a TDI Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to assist Katrina survivors who are deaf or hard of hearing and need financial assistance to restore communication access. Donations will go toward replacing telecommunication technologies lost or damaged as the result of Katrina. These technologies include amplified phones, TTY’s, captioned telephones, NOAA weather radios, portable televisions with captioning, Web cams, videophones, incoming telephone call alerting devices and basic pager equipment needs.

*The Arc of Louisiana


The Arc of the Louisiana has established a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to channel donations to people with developmental disabilities affected by Katrina and the subsequent flooding. All money donated will be used to fill the most immediate needs for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and other supports.

The Arc of the United States


The Arc of the United States has established a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to channel donations to its constituents affected by Katrina. Funds will be used to fill the most immediate needs of food, clothing, medicine and shelter.

United Cerebral Palsy


United Cerebral Palsy has established a Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund to help families with special needs displaced by Hurricane Katrina in Texas and across the southern United States. Funds will sent to UCP affiliates providing services to displaced families; such services include medical equipment, long-term supports, counseling and referrals to medical professionals.

*United Cerebral Palsy of Houston


United Cerebral Palsy of Houston is seeking funds to provide counseling, other support services and medical equipment for people with special needs affected by Katrina. It is also seeking donations of medical equipment, assistive technology and baby items such as diapers, baby wipes, baby food and formula.

United Spinal Association


United Spinal Association is raising funds to provide supplies such as wheelchairs and other mobility devices for people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina.

United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication


The United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication is assisting individuals who rely on augmentative communication techniques, strategies and technologies (AAC), their families and the professionals who serve them affected by Hurricane Katrina. It seeks to ensure that hurricane victims who can benefit from AAC, and relevant agencies and professionals, gain access to needed equipment (devices, communication displays, batteries, etc.), materials (manuals, books, software, etc.) and related services (evaluation, therapy, funding). To address these needs, USSAAC is accepting donations of funds as well as AAC equipment, materials, services and supports.

The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS)


IDS is working to provide post-disaster assistance to persons with disabilities in the state of Mississippi.  This assistance includes rent payments, replacement of necessary medical supplies/equipment, acquisition of assistive technology devices and addressing accessibility needs for housing accommodations.

Unlocking Autism


Unlocking Autism has established a Gulf Disaster Relief Program to identify needs and distribute funds to children on the autism spectrum and families from the Gulf Coast area affected by Katrina.

Volunteers of America Southeast, Inc. (VOASE)


VOASE will use funds to provide medical equipment (replacement wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices) and to provide interpretive services for evacuees who have hearing and/or speech disabilities.

Wheelchair Foundation


The Wheelchair Foundation is seeking funds to support its efforts to send new wheelchairs to victims of Hurricane Katrina. It has already made a commitment to send 3,200 to the affected area. A donation of $150 will ensure shipment of one wheelchair.

What Do They Need?

Hearing Assistive Technology

  • Teletypewriters (TTYs)
  • Voice carry-over TTYs
  • Relay conference captioning (important for hard of hearing using personal computers and telephones)
  • Captioned telephone
  • Video communication devices (known as video phones, web cameras, etc.)
  • Signaling devices (for use with telephones, door bells, alarms)
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Hearing/speech amplification devices
  • Closed-caption decoders

Communication Access/Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • Qualified sign language interpreters and CART reporters, etc.

Durable Medical Products

  • Mobility aids (wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, etc.)
  • Medical supplies (injection supplies, incontinence and urological products, nutritional products, pads, etc.)
  • Adaptive accessories (wheel chair packs and cushions, utensils, clothing, grips and handles, medical warning jewelry)
  • Hearing aids (aids, batteries, etc.)
  • Other (oxygen, hospital beds, transfer lifts, air mattresses, etc.)

Products for People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning supplies

Personal Assistance Services Providers

*Indicates an organization local to the Gulf Coast region.