ADAPT’s open letter to FEMA administrator Brock Long

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Administrator Brock Long

Dear Administrator Long:

When disaster strikes, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected. It is the stated mission of FEMA “to reduce the loss of life and property and protect our institutions from all hazards by leading and supporting the nation in a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.” With respect to people with disabilities, FEMA is failing to lead, failing to provide support, and failing to protect lives.

It was gravely disappointing to see FEMA release a strategic plan that does not include preparedness, planning or response elements specifically addressing people with disabilities. The consequences for this lack of planning means that, following disasters, people with disabilities often face choices such as: death or placement in an institution.

FEMA’s strategic plan should include input from, and reflect the experiences of people who have lived through natural disasters, who have perspective on service delivery gaps following disasters, and who have ideas and initiatives for addressing such gaps.

We are demanding that FEMA go back to the drawing board for their strategic plan. Recognize that the current plan’s oversight by not including people with disabilities is not something that can be fixed by holding “after the fact” meetings. Re-start the planning process by including people with disabilities in the formulation of the plan.

We are respectfully requesting the following:

  • Cancel the meeting scheduled for November 8, 2018, and notify attending parties of the same.
  • Re-convene the strategic planning process, starting with national input/listening sessions, to ensure the experiences and input of people with disabilities who have faced a variety of types of disasters are incorporated into the planning process.
  • Include disability advocates, providers, and service and support systems from other areas of the government in the drafting of a strategic plan, to ensure that agencies in other areas of government are not, for example, expediting the needless institutionalization of people with disabilities, rather than coordinating their systems with FEMA efforts and plans.
  • Bring in non-governmental partners so they have a clear understanding of the expectations related to their role supporting FEMA’s strategic plan, especially as it relates to people with disabilities.

ADAPT Demands FEMA cancel the Strategic Planning Meeting until after the above demands are met. We Demand REAL disability stakeholder input in the planning, implementation, and execution of services for people with disabilities. We Demand Our seat at the table – Nothing About Us, Without Us!
Confirmation of the meeting cancellation and next steps towards the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities in their disaster planning and relief can be sent to Philadelphia ADAPT organizer, Germán Parodi at

In justice and equality,
Regional ADAPT Organizers