A Forum on Disaster Preparedness of Individuals with a Disability and their Health Conditions in the Rio Grande Valley

SOCI 3348 Disaster and Society

In this Spring semester, students in SOCI 3348 Disaster and Society class conducted a study on disaster preparedness, risk perception, and health conditions of individuals who live with a disability in the Rio Grande Valley. The study is a part of service-learning component designated in the course. They would like to share their study’s findings with key stakeholders who are concerned with disaster and emergency management in the valley. The study’s findings are expected to be useful input for the key stakeholders to help individuals with a disability condition for a future disaster event. This forum showcases a meaningful engagement between the University and the community partners in preparing for future disasters in efforts to build disaster resiliency in the valley.

Panelists

1. Dr. William Donner, Director, Disaster Studies MA Program, UTRGV, Edinburg
2. Antonio Lopez, LP, Fire Chief / Emergency Management Coordinator, Weslaco
3. Juanita Saenz, Program Supervisor, Homeland Security & Criminal Justice Programs, Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council-Public Safety, Weslaco
4. Jarrett V. Sheldon, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator, Brownsville
5. Tommy Ureste, Fire Chief / Emergency Management Coordinator, Mercedes
6. Linda M. Wasserman, Public Health Planner I, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, Edinburg
7. Dr. Dean Kyne, Disaster Studies Program, UTRGV, Edinburg

Agenda

Meeting: A Forum on Disaster Preparedness of Individuals with a Disability and their Health Conditions in the Rio Grande Valley
Time: 1:15- 3:05 pm
Date: May 7, 2019 (Tuesday)
Place: Education Complex 1.530, UTRGV, Edinburg

1:15-1:20 pm A Welcome Note by Dr. William Donner

1:20-1:30 pm A Keynote by Linda M. Wasserman

1:30-1:35 pm An Overview of the Study by Dr. Dean Kyne

1:35-1:55 pm Group 1

1:55-2:15 pm Group 2

2:15-2:35 pm Group 3

2:35-2:55 pm Group 4

2:55-3:05 pm Comments; Q&A

3:05-3:10 pm A Closing Remark by Antonio Lopez

IMG_0764.jpg
IMG_0765.jpg
IMG_0696.jpg

Michael Dimas, an undergraduate student of SOCI 3348 Disaster and Society performing the role of an emcee.

IMG_0699.jpg

Dr. William Donner, Director, Disaster Studies MA Program delivering a welcome note.

IMG_0705.jpg

Linda M. Wasserman, Public Health Planner I, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, Edinburg delivering a keynote.

IMG_0707_edited.jpg

Dr. Dean Kyne presenting an overview of the study

IMG_0750.jpg

(From left to right): Dr. Dean Kyne, Disaster Studies Program, UTRGV, Edinburg; Linda M. Wasserman, Public Health Planner I, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, Edinburg; Juanita Saenz, Program Supervisor, Homeland Security & Criminal Justice Programs, Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council-Public Safety, Weslaco; Jarrett V. Sheldon, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator, Brownsville; Tommy Ureste, Fire Chief / Emergency Management Coordinator, Mercedes; Dr. William Donner, Director, Disaster Studies MA Program, UTRGV, Edinburg; Antonio Lopez, LP, Fire Chief / Emergency Management Coordinator, Weslaco

IMG_0761.jpg

Antonio Lopez, LP, Fire Chief / Emergency Management Coordinator, Weslaco delivering a closing remark.

IMG_0762.JPG
IMG_0760.JPG
IMG_0749.JPG

Disaster Preparedness of Individuals with Disabilities and their Health Conditions in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Rolando Garza, Brandon Martell, Constantino Hernandez, Kira Casares, Clarissa Recio, Juan Sanchez, Kayla Navarro, Linda Garcia, Oscar Lee Ramirez, Shyla De La Garza

The Rio Grande Valley which consists of four counties, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron Counties host about 1.3 million individuals. There are about 155,000 ( 12%) of the total population who are aged 18 years and older living with a disability (Census Bureau, 2015). The valley is prone to natural disasters including hurricanes and floods. In the history, the valley was hard hit by a few hurricanes with strong categories. However, studies (e.g., Kyne, et al., 2018) showed that the valley’s residents were not prepared for a disaster event. Their low level of preparedness was observed low. During disaster event, individuals with disability are more vulnerable (Al-rousan,Rubenstein and Wallace, 2015, Bethel, Foreman and Burke, 2011). This study empirically investigates the states of disaster preparedness of individuals living with a disability.

Slide9.JPG
Slide12.JPG
IMG_0715.JPG

Understanding Disaster Preparedness of Individuals with Disabilities and their Health Condition in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Michael Dimas, Abigail Villarreal, Alejandra Guzman, Amanda Hut, Angelica Bustos, Bianca Pena, Fernando Flores, Karen Grimaldo, Kimberly Olvera, Luis Guerra, Mariela Ramirez, Stacey Lopez

The Rio Grande Valley is a region of closely related and interconnected individuals where several generations of families have called this area home. Unfortunately, it is one of the parts of our country with the highest levels of poverty, yet we exhibit some of the fastest rates of relative growth. This growth has brought improved infrastructure and other improvements, especially progressive strides in improvements have been seen mainly in city infrastructure and other aspects of foundational security. However, the valley is prone to natural disasters with a historical records of badly hit hurricanes (Kyne, et al., 2018). The disasters caused deaths, and damaged properties and crops in the impact areas leading to negatively impact the economic development. During the disasters, the individuals with a disability are vulnerable because their disabilities limit them to prepare and response to a natural disaster effectively.  There are  154,808 (11%) of the 1.3 million people who live with a disability who resides in the valley (Census Bureau, 2015).  The purpose for this study was to understand the levels of disaster preparedness of individuals with a disability who live in the Rio Grande Valley.

Slide20.JPG
Slide26.JPG
IMG_0733.JPG
IMG_0735.JPG

Enhancing Disaster Preparedness of Individuals with Disabilities in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Lisa Tresnicky, Homer Garcia, Alondra Sanchez, Isaiah Garcia, Jennifer Quezada, Kayla Mora, Rosalind Reyes, Sierra Almaguer

Deep in South Texas, lies the Rio Grande Valley, often the pathway for hurricanes to enter due to it being so close to the Gulf of Mexico. The RGV which consists of Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, and Starr county is a home to more than 1.3 million people. Although the RGV has suffered many floods and hurricanes, many occupants still lack adequate disaster preparedness (Kyne, 2018). There are four steps in managing a disaster, namely mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Among them, the preparedness includes buying disaster kits and making specific plans for evacuation, participating in training or drills and learning about what to do in a disaster. During a disaster event, individuals especially without a proper preparedness, they would not be effectively responding to a disaster event including a mandatory evacuation if there is any. During the disasters, individuals with disability are more vulnerable (Bethel, J.W., Foreman, A.N. and Burke, S.C., 2011).
To enhance their disaster preparedness, understanding the reasons for not evacuating during a disaster event is essential. Our study examines the  the challenges faced by those with disabilities so that proper measures may be taken to minimize damage and facilitate resilience.

Slide31.JPG
Slide34.JPG
IMG_0749.JPG
IMG_0748.JPG

Perceived Risk and Disaster Preparedness of the Disabled Individuals in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas

Naomi Cortez, Adalberto Medina, Alexis Pruneda, Dulce Moreno, Ithalia Garza, Lucero Rodea, Thais Cantu

Slide37.JPG
Slide38.JPG

IMG_0755.JPG
IMG_0756.JPG