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GAO Issues Report on Disaster Assistance

Washington – The Government Accountability Office has issued a report on disaster assistance for individuals who are older or have disabilities. The report (GAO-19-318) is titled “Disaster Assistance: FEMA Action Needed to Better Support Individuals Who Are Older or Have Disabilities”.

What GAO Found: “A range of officials from entities that partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)–including states, territories, localities, and nonprofits)–reported challenges providing assistance to individuals who are older or have disabilities following the 2017 hurricanes. For example, officials said that many of these individuals required specialized assistance obtaining food, water, medicine, and oxygen, but aid was sometimes difficult to provide. Officials in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands cited particular difficulties providing this assistance due to damaged roads and communication systems, as well as a lack of documentation of nursing home locations.

Based on GAO’s analysis of FEMA data and interviews with FEMA officials and stakeholders, aspects of the process to apply for assistance from FEMAafter the 2017 hurricanes were challenging for older individuals and those with disabilities. According to stakeholders and FEMA officials, disability-related questions in the registration materials are confusing and easily misinterpreted.

The text of the GAO report is available at

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