Hurricane Katrina - Help the Families

Hurricane Katrina - Help the Families
Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge, and the levies breaking in New Orleans left thousands of victims homeless and stranded along the Gulf Coast. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families in the states along the Gulf Coast devastated by hurricane Katrina - Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the counties in Florida where Katrina first made landfall.

Families of children with special needs realize more immediately than others how vulnerable our loved ones would be in this situation. Many of our children are dependent on a stable environment, regular medical treatments or medications. They may have weak immune systems due to their diagnosis, chemotherapy treatments, or other reasons.

Watching television news coverage of a neonatal intensive care unit in the Ochsner Clinic, the only hospital left operating in New Orleans after the storm, put a chill down my spine - these few were reportedly airlifted Wednesday to hospitals in Houston, Baton Rouge and Birmingham.

Seeing people rescued from rooftops I wondered how many wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, insulin kits, and asthma inhalers were left downstairs when families were climbing to escape the rising waters.

Reports coming out of the New Orleans convention center say that otherwise healthy babies have died of dehydration waiting for help that has not come in time.

It may be that disaster relief organizers were unaware of the situation at the convention center until they saw reports on television, although the people waiting there were told it would be a place where they would be provided food and water. It is heartbreaking to know that survivors were unaware of the concern and urgency we feel in getting help to them.

Relief organizations are already sending volunteers and staff to help the survivors, and there are many organizations collecting donations to support these efforts. It's a good idea to explain to your children how and why you are supporting relief organizations, and to allow them to participate if they wish.

Your local television churches, television news, radio stations and service organizations may have fundraising activities that you can contribute to as part of your community, and there will probably be organizations collecting donations at local bank branches, and at sports arenas, before and during baseball, football and basketball games.

People are likely to feel anxious in the coming weeks, whether they have loved ones in the affected areas, or just relate to the tragedy and destruction as human beings, as Americans, or as families who care for vulnerable children.

Children will need reassurance, a listening ear, and time to understand what has happened. It can be a big help to let them know that we reach out to those in trouble, and that others would reach out to us during times of trouble.

This is a very anxious time for those who have family and friends in the affected areas, who are not able to contact loved ones, and a time of terrible grief for those who have had the very sad news of the loss of loved ones.

Remember that each person reacts to grief and loss in different ways and with their own timing. Children's books on the subject are often soothing and comforting to the adults who read alongside, who may feel overwhelmed but are not able to ask for comfort themselves.

Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief - Children with Disabilities, Health Issues or other Special Needs

A Year Past Hurricane Katrina

Asbestos Hurricane Preparedness

Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center
Contamination Caused by Katrina

For more information on the risk of asbestos exposure see the American Cancer Society links or google sites like the Mesothelioma Library online at

Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) - a program of the National Organization on Disability

N.O.D. Special Needs for Katrina Evacuees (SNAKE) Project

U Kansas Nobody Left Behind - Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Mobility Impairments
Resource Links

Pennsylvania 911 Dispatch Program for Families of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Here is a partial list of disability support and advocacy organizations that are providing support and participating in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina who have disabilities or special health care needs. As Hurricane Rita threatens the Gulf coast of Texas, these organizations are preparing for more rescue and relief needs.

TASH - Relief Efforts for Katrina Victims with Special Needs lists efforts to assist disability related organizations, individuals with disabilities, and their families in the Gulf States and the states reaching out to those seeking refuge from the storm and floods. The page will be updated with additional information as it is received

Disability Solutions - Hurricane Katrina: Ways to Help People with Developmental Disabilites and their Families

Family Village - Hurricane Disaster Relief Efforts for People with Disabilities and Their Families

Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief for Families of Children with Disabilities, Health Issues or other Special Needs

NFPA Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed this free guide as a resource for creating an all-inclusive evacuation plan that considers everyone’s needs for evacuation, including the needs of people with disabilities.
Please share this with local mayors, fire and police chiefs, and school district directors.

Family Voices, advocates for children and youth with special health care needs
1-888-835-5669 - 2340 Alamo SE, Suite 102 - Albuquerque, NM 87106

ArcLink Katrina Special Needs Assistance Page -
TheArcLink has created a central online clearinghouse so that family members, or other advocates and support people for those with developmental disabilities can offer or find the help that is needed; go to and click on Katrina Special Needs Relief - that will take you to
Offers from ArcLink host families are found at Host a Person/Family in My Home

The Arc of Greater Houston will be the clearing house for those in the Houston area who are willing to open their homes to families with children who have cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities and are in the Houston area who have escaped from the devastated areas.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) has established the Katrina Fund for the Down Syndrome Community, at which will be a temporary fund to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans, the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society and the Mobile Area Down Syndrome Support Group during September to distribute in October.

Any direct offers of assistance for the DSA of Greater New Orleans can be directed to Karen Scallan or Mike Rapier at Katrina Fund for the Down Syndrome Community that can be found at To find affiliated groups in the affected area who planned Buddy Walks in October, see NDSS Buddy Walk Map

Supporting People With Spina Bifida in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
SB HELP - Hurricane Emergency Life-support Program
This organization estimates as many as 10,000 people with spina bifida have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.

United Cerebral Palsy at has made an emergency hotline available for UCP of Greater New Orleans at (800) 872-5827 to exchange information, as well as leave messages from or for those in the affected areas

UCP has also set up a Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund to provide services to people with disabilities affected by hurricane Katrina and assist UCP affiliates throughout the region restore their operations as quickly as possible.

There is gluten free food available in the Houston area for victims donated by manfacturers. Those with celiac disease can go to this site for info:

Starlight Starbright Foundation's Send A Smile Program provides coloring books, crayons, sticker books and stickers, children's books, plush bears and other items to seriously ill children displaced by the hurricane.

Lawa‘i woman leaves Kaua‘i to set up one of the first emergency shelters for children and families with special needs in Toccopolo, Miss

Suggestions to help establish special education supports and services for displaced students

Soothing Children's Fears

Katrina and Services for Students with Learning Disabilities (LD)
Re-establishing special education supports and services for all students:

Awake In America Operation Restore CPAPfor displaced individuals with sleep apnea

CNN video report - Katrina and Children - includes Nash who has Down syndrome and leukemia.

If you have a particular expertise in the disability rights field and want to volunteer for relief efforts, go to https://www.KatrinaDisability.Info and click on "Disability Expert Volunteers".

The Arc of Louisiana for people with disabilities and their families affected by Katrina.

Children with Diabetes - CWD - is working with the Children with Diabetes Foundation and dLife to provide diabetes supplies and assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Families are approaching their local pharmacies asking managers if they have anything extra at all in diabetes supplies, anything dented or opened they couldn't sell. Some have filled an entire grocery cart with supplies, including meters and strips to be shipped to MASH type units and shelters 203-221-345 Fax: 203-454-6986

The US Dept of Health Care Professionals and Relief Personnel Volunteers has a listing of the professionals they need now at
Volunteers in other professions, try

Team Rescue One (seen on Dr. Phil's Show)

Please share your links at this Federal Government main site:
Information for People with Disabilities and people who want to help them

Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities

Information about how individuals, families, and those who serve people with disabilities can prepare for the event of an emergency.
September is National Emergency Preparedness Awareness Month

Red Cross - Tips for People with Cognitive Disabilities before, during and after a disaster

US DHHS - Coping with Disaster -- Suggestions for Helping Children with Cognitive Disabilities

Bella - Hurricane Katrina - People with Disabilities

Eli Lilly Company will provide Financial Support and Product Donations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, coordinated through Heart to Heart at the American Red Cross. The company will make a direct cash contribution of $1 million, and in addition will match dollar-for-dollar all contributions made by its U.S. employees to the American Red Cross. Lilly also will donate $1 million in insulin to those in need in the affected areas, and will assess the appropriateness of donations of other medicines as the specific needs become clearer.

American Diabetes Association response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster

Other sites for helping Katrina Victims are listed at the Bella Autism Spectrum Disorders Forum bulletin boards - please add to the list if you can.

National PTA Bulletin Boards Forum Index - Disaster Relief at is a resource for support, encouragement, and avenues to reach out to families caught in the disaster.

National PTA article for parents - When Disaster Strikes: Helping children cope with life at its worst

Northern Mississippi PTA relief care package collection for refugees from Katrina enrolling in their schools - - The Louisiana PTA Board website will receive requests from local Louisiana PTA units whose schools have an influx of students from the devastated area who are in need of supplies, clothing, lunch money, etc. to contact the state office for support. Other PTA councils, local units and state leadership will offer similar help

Hurricane Katrina - Help the Families
Hurricane Katrina - Help the Families

Katrina Missing Persons Hotline, 1-888-544-5475
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website will have photographs, names, and physical descriptions of missing adults, missing children, and found children from hurricane-stricken areas posted at NCMEC's linked from their web site at

Office of Civil Rights
Disaster Situations and the HIPAA Privacy Rule

State Education Agency information about state and Council of Chief State School Officers CCSSO responses to Hurricane Katrina.
State Efforts and Information - Student Supply Kit - Teacher Supply Kit

News from New Orleans

Governor Haley Barbour's Office and the
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund Call Center
1-866-230-8903 or local 601-981-1247

MCI free service to reunite people with access to a phone allows displaced people and those trying to locate them to connect by calling a free phone number.
To register as a displaced person call: 1-877-HELP-KAT (1-877-435-7528)
To locate someone who is missing call:1-866-601-FIND (1-866-601-3463)

The Texas Education Agency toll-free hotline to answer education questions arising from Hurricane Katrina at 800-957-5109 and be staffed throughout the holiday weekend answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The TEA Web site collects hurricane-related information in one location, linked from
Anyone who wants to donate school supplies to the evacuees may email information to

Louisiana Department of Labor establishes database for Workers’ Compensation claimants and providers
Claimants who have been relocated by Hurricane Katrina should call (225) 342-7561, (225) 342-7555, or toll free at (800) 201-2494 or (800) 201-3457. Insurance companies, self-insured employers and/or third party administrators need to contact us with their contact information as well.

BellaOnline.Com School Reform site -
Hurricane Katrina-Helping Your Students Cope With Tragedy

New Orleans and Gulf Coast News Stories
New Orleans WWT Television News -

Dr Phil - Hurricane Katrina - The Aftermath - Links
Moving Past A Moment of Crisis; Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; How to Give and Receive Support

Families can donate directly to the following organizations recommended by FEMA - I will include the web addresses so that you can link to them from your own web pages:

The Salvation Army is serving meals to victims of the disaster and the 'first responders' on the scene and uses money donated to provide meals, water, household cleaning kits and other services. To donate money, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and specify Katrina Relief; to make Corporate Donations, call - 1-888-363-2769; victims needing assistance can call 1-888-363-2769

The Salvation Army's Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) at is a website where you can send a 'health and welfare request' for family or friends you are unable to locate.

To support the American Red Cross, call
1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669)
Those writing checks to their local Red Cross should specify on the check "Hurricane Katrina"

The Family Links Registry of the Red Cross can be accessed on the Web at The Red Cross also has established a hotline, 1-877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317), that can be used to search or add information to the registry.

Shelters and food pantries in Houston

Katrina Disaster Relief - Information for People with Disabilities and people who want to help them

Shared Housing Offers for Refugees

Tennessee Hotel Lodging Association has links to major cities coordinating relief efforts at
For instance, Memphis

U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Line 1-800-323-7233. Post information about missing or stranded loved ones at

For housing requests, see Operation Share your Home - go to this web page to offer to share your home

America's Second Harvest Network

The Food Bank Network needs donations in truckload quanities - call 800-771-2303 and ask for ext 120, 134, 142, 145, or 192; they also need donated transportation, refrigerated or frozen space for food banks that are operating without power, and funds to buy what is not donated.

The truly wonderful Morgan Freeman has organized an online auction to benefit the Red Cross at the Charity Folks website

In How Children Cope with Crisis and How Children Cope with Loss, the Sesame Street Workshop Parent site provides expert advice on how to acknowlege, reassure and listen to children's concerns, according to their developmental age - under two, two to five, and six to eleven.

Emergency preparedness backpacks from
benefit foster children displaced by Katrina

Informations on adults is available at the DVA website - What can survivors do to reduce the risk of negative psychological consequences and to best recover from disaster stress? - and Effects of Traumatic Stress in a Disaster Situation (plus Bereavement, and Bereavement Complications)

For more information on stress related problems children encounter during and after traumatic events, see the resource list at Terrorist Attacks and Children - London Bombings

Children in the affected areas may also be prone to Heat Illnesses and other dangers

Local bookstores and your public library will have books on childhood fears like these at

For more information on Katrina and its aftermath, see:

FEMA - Hurricane Katrina
FEMA - Spanish - Huracán Katrina
FEMA for Kids - How You Might Feel in a Disaster - FEMA for Kids may be more appropriate for teaching children about disaster preparedness - one story book at the site "For Little Ones" is about a hermit crab whose shell is destroyed by a series of disasters and may be very frightening to a child who has experienced a single disaster.
FEMA - Hurricane Katrina - Mississippi
FEMA - Hurricane Katrina - Alabama
FEMA - Hurricane Katrina - Louisiana
FEMA - Hurricane Katrina - Florida
Recent News Releases
FEMA How You Can Help or Donate to Relief Organizations

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters at

Be aware that there are individuals taking advantage of the situation, diverting money from relief organizations through scams and 'phish' emails. Don't allow them to deter our support for victims and responders.

You Should Also Read:
Asking More from Medical Professionals
Diabetes Information for Classmates
Community Support for Families

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2021 by Pamela Wilson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Pamela Wilson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Pamela Wilson for details.