Broome County Office for the Aging's Disaster Preparedness
Residents of Broome County are far too familiar with the devastating effects of flooding caused by two separate disasters in 2006 and 2011. The Broome County Office for the Aging (BCOFA) was available to assist older residents during these disasters, help coordinate efforts with other agencies and is tracking results that have provide grounds for offering recommendations in how to improve agency disaster response and recovery efforts.
This was achieved by taking the following steps:
- -Working together with the community and local partners, including the Office of Emergency Services, Central Foods, Health Department, Broome County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (BCCOAD), Catholic Charities of Broome County, and church and service groups which assisted older adults in cleaning out homes;
- -Assuring that appropriate agencies are notified of any Broome County Office for the Aging clients who are both homebound, without a caregiver and likely to need assistance;
- -Contacting case managed and homebound clients identified as needing assistance to ensure that necessary services are provided. The supervisors of certain programs keep hard copy lists of program participants with contact information at home;
- -Delivering meals to clients who receive services through the home delivered meals program;
- -Providing the "211 First Call for Help" information to alleviate the overwhelming volume of calls being received by the area's 911 systems. The " 211 First Call For Help" is available to answer questions and provide current available information about flood conditions, shelter information and mandatory evacuation areas and serves as a clearing house for the county's flood information;
- -Assisting older adults with temporary short term housing at Family Type Homes for the Elderly, Adult Care Homes, YWCA, YMCA and other local shelters; and
- -Following the emergency plan that includes telephone communication trees and other emergency procedures.
Issues identified during these disasters and recommendations for improvement include:
- -Older residents did not apply for FEMA in time. Reporting damage to local officials does not qualify you for FEMA aid. Residents must contact FEMA directly by signing up at http://www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1 (800) 621-3361;
- -Some older adults cleaned out their basements months after the flooding and then found major mold and mildew issues. The Broome County Health Department provides information pertaining to mold and human health at and flood and well clean up on their web site.
- -During the 2011 flood recovery, a special needs shelter was needed on a longer term basis once the regular shelter closed. This special needs shelter at Broome Developmental Center was made available for some of those seniors and disabled people that had lived in two of the senior housing buildings that were closed for nearly three months and for those residents unable to manager stairs.
For additional information, please contact Lisa Schuhle, Program Manager at Broome County Office for the Aging at (607) 778-2411.
Did You Know?
The New York State Office for the Aging operates a Help Line to offer older New Yorkers information and assistance in finding available resources. Please call 1-800-342-9871 with questions