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Special Needs Residents Encourged to Register for Hurricane Evacuation

By Rhonda Miller | Published 11 Jul 2012 06:20pm | comments
Kevin Jay is medical disaster transportation officer for Harrison and Hancock Counties.

Emergency officials are urging elderly or disabled residents to register for hurricane evacuation.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more.

University of Southern Mississippi history professor James Patterson Smith says 238 Mississippi residents died in Hurricane Katrina and some of them were elderly or disabled.

"Within just a couple blocks of our campus in Long Beach we had elderly people who died. Dr. Louis Maxey and his wife died, a physician. He was in his 90s though. And we know from their son what they were thinking."

Patterson documents the tragedy in his book "Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story."

"They had evacuated the year before for a storm and spent 12 hours on the road in traffic to Jackson. And if you’re 90 years old with all sorts of health issues and you can’t get out of the traffic and you can’t use the restrooms, that became unfeasible. So they made a decision that their home was safe in Camille and they weren’t going to evacuate any more. "

Now emergency managers want families to register in advance so officials can plan for special medical or transportation needs. The Harrison County Emergency Management Agency has a special needs registration form on its website. Harrison and Hancock County Medical Disaster Transportation Officer Kevin Jay says some shelters will designated for special needs, but that’s a last resort.

"Any shelter that’s designated for a special need is not a skilled nursing facility. It’s not going to be set up to be comfort. The patient has to be conscientious enough to try to stock up on some medication. We’re not going to have that at the drop of a hat of a storm."

Coastal residents are encouraged to contact emergency officials in their county to finalize evacuation plans for elderly or disabled family members.



Kevin Jay is medical disaster transportation officer for Harrison and Hancock Counties.



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