The Additional Impact of Hurricanes on Disabled and Elderly Residents

The co-founders of Cane Bay Partners, a financial services and management consulting company, take a strong interest in giving back to residents of the island of St. Croix. In the aftermath of 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria, the company set up a charitable division called Cane Bay Canes to provide money, supplies and fund-raising efforts. One of the programs involved providing consumer goods to elderly and disabled residents after the storms.

Increased Risk for Certain Demographics

Several demographic populations are at increased risk of severe hardship after a hurricane strikes. Some of these include disabled, mentally and physically ill, financially challenged and socially isolated men and women. The effects are seen time and again when hurricanes strike various areas of the United States and its territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. People who are not experiencing these troubles have an easier time of leaving before the storm and of rebuilding their lives afterward.

Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons

The federal government is fully are of these problems but has not been effective at dealing with them. For instance, the American Association of Retired Persons has reported 73 percent of Katrina-related fatalities in New Orleans in 2005 were men and women 60 years of age and older. Yet people in this age group accounted for a much smaller percentage of the city’s population at that time. Nearly half of those fatalities were people over age 75.

As it turned out, disabled and elderly men and women once again were left behind when Hurricane Irma struck in 2017. America: The Jesuit Review reported that hundreds went to so-called medical evacuation centers that had inadequate provisions for people with medical issues. There appeared to be some confusion among emergency management as to which facilities were intended for those with medical needs.

Getting Help

People living in U.S. territories have expressed frustration at the government’s insufficient response to hurricane impact, which they see as lacking compared with attention to the mainland. In St. Croix, for example, some areas were without electric power for months. With the assistance of organizations like Cane Bay Cares, residents had additional ability to cope with all the damage.