Top of page
Disaster

People with disabilities unsheltered in tornado alley

woman in wheelchair

In the state with the highest number of disaster declarations, many Oklahomans with disabilities don’t have a storm shelter.

John High knows that when he hears a tornado siren, he’s on his own. “I just pray. That’s all I can do,” High says while sitting in his motorized wheelchair at his home in Norman, Oklahoma.

That’s because he doesn’t have a safe place to go.  “One person told me ‘put on a football helmet and go in your kitchen.’ I got a window in every room of this house, so there’s really no place for me to go. That’s why I’m trying to get a shelter,” he said.

High chose the house he has rented for more than a decade because of its proximity to a public school that was a designated public shelter. From his driveway, High can see the school just down the street. But most public shelters, including that one, were shut down a few years ago, leaving Oklahomans like High to fend for themselves.

The gold standard for people who live in tornado-prone areas is a storm shelter. They range in price from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size and materials. The base model is basically a concrete box set into the ground, usually in a backyard. But it requires people to go down a set of steep stairs that is not wheelchair accessible.

You might also like

people on flooded street, inclusing a wheelchair user people on flooded street, inclusing a wheelchair user

Persons with disabilities and carers at more risk of homelessness after floods

People with disabilities and their carers experienced profound impact and…

Rear view of African young disabled men visiting training class and people clapping him Rear view of African young disabled men visiting training class and people clapping him

One-on-one support for emergency planning

Council is partnering with CFA and Red Cross to host…

flooded neighborhood flooded neighborhood

‘There was no plan’: Deaf Australians left behind in the 2022 NSW flood response

One of the sub-themes for this year’s Conference of States…

wheelchair user wheelchair user

Inequality, vulnerability must be addressed for gender-responsive and accessible DRR

Diverse leadership and adaptive social protection are critical factors for…