Congressmen Sires, Langevin, Smith, and Panetta and Senator Casey Introduce the Bipartisan Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act
Legislation Improves Disaster Preparedness For Seniors, People With Disabilities
(Washington, D.C.) – Last week, Congressmen Albio Sires (NJ-08), Jim Langevin (RI-02), Christopher Smith (NJ-04), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. As climate scientists forecast worsening climate change outcomes, and amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this bipartisan legislation would support seniors and persons with disabilities before, during and after disasters and emergencies. Congressman Sires is a senior member of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
“People with disabilities and seniors face unique challenges during natural disasters and other emergencies,” said Rep. Sires. “I’m proud to work with Senator Casey, Rep. Langevin, Rep. Smith, and Rep. Panetta to introduce this critical legislation, which will ensure that the needs of people with disabilities and seniors are accounted for before, during, and after extreme events.”
“As natural disasters and extreme climate events become more frequent, ensuring the safety of people with disabilities during emergencies must be a forethought, not an afterthought,” said Rep. Langevin. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce this critical legislation, which will make sure the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities are accounted for during the planning, response, and recovery phases of emergencies and disasters.”
“As we see the dramatic and catastrophic effects of the climate crisis, including increasing severity of extreme weather events, it is vital that we consider the needs of people with disabilities and older adults in planning and coordination efforts,” said Sen. Casey. “We must ensure that seniors and people with disabilities are active participants in developing emergency preparedness plans that will keep them safe and ensure that their needs are met before, during and after a disaster strikes.”
The REAADI for Disasters Act would ensure that older adults and people with disabilities are involved in the preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation of disasters. It would establish a network of centers focused on technical assistance, training, and research to assist state and local governments, launch a competitive grant program to pilot strategies that promote greater inclusion of these populations in disaster management, and expand the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and Disasters to better reflect the diverse characteristics of the disability community. The REAADI for Disasters Act would also require the Department of Justice and Government Accountability Office to review the extent to which the civil rights of these populations are upheld during disasters and whether federal agencies have spent relief funds in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.