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Emergencies effect everyone, even those of us with disabilities

June 20, 2013, saw a record flood hit the city of Calgary. It's probably the worst natural disaster this part of Canada has seen in generations. An unusually wet spring combined with a significant snow pack has resulted in communities from Banff to Calgary and surrounding area litterly get wiped out; it's been a perfect storm.

It's been a huge devistation with the price tag likely to be in the billions. Sadly, four people have lost their lives and I'm sure everyone feels for their families for the tragic loss. Would our service animals be welcome at an emergency centre? How about someone using a wheel chair or motorized scooter.

So what happens to those of us who may live alone and have a disability when mother nature strikes. Are first responders properly trained to help someone who is blind navigate their way through a flood zone? How about someone who is deaf-blind and may not even be aware of the public address warning residents to evacuate. What happens to a guide dog or service animal when public evacuation centres become temporary homes.

Where does this responsibility lie.

Well, it's up to everyone to make sure that someone knows that in case of an emergency, you or your neighbour might not be able to independently and safely find their way to safety. Is this something that the police should be responsible for? How about 911? I'm sure that there are as many answers as there are municipalities, all of which probably have a different perspective.

I for one, once the devistation begins to get cleaned up and life resumes some semblence of normal, will be reaching out to my municipality to ask these questions and to offer input and suggestions. We, as Canadians, blind, deaf-blind or not, need to be aware of those around us and in turn, they need to look out for us when the streets flood and the power shuts down.


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.


Saw a note recently that made me think of this post. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is surveying people with disabilities to get a better sense of the needs of people with disabilities in disasters. The survey will run until September 25, and the results will be made available in October.

I haven't yet taken it myself so can't comment on accessibility, but I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to take some time and fill out the survey.

Click here for more information on the survey:

Click here to take the survey:

If the above URLs fail to turn into links, you should be able to just copy and paste them into your browser.


Great article. You know until the serious flooding in Alberta, I never took the efforts that the BC Coalition of People With Disabilities was working on to develop a registry of people with disability for emergency responders too seriously. but now, perhaps I should reconsider my stance on the registry. It is importent for first responders to know where people with disabilities might be during a serious disaster like the floods or an earth quake.

Lui, outstanding article !!!
At AMI Calgary, we would like to talk to you about this article, and get your thoughts about some other issues.
My office phone number is 403-515-8430.

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.