A recent class-action lawsuit brought against the city of New York by Disability Rights Advocates affirmed that residents with disabilities face disproportionate risks of catastrophic harm and death during large-scale disasters—not because of some inherent “natural” risk, but because the city fails to plan for their needs.

One of the plaintiffs in the case was Melba Torres, a New York resident unable to evacuate during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 because she could not find accessible transport that could handle her power wheelchair. Torres was trapped without power on the eighth floor of her building and remained stuck in her apartment for six days. In a far-reaching settlement, the first of its kind, New York City agreed to overhaul its emergency preparedness plan, adding sixty new emergency shelters accessible to people with disabilities, creating a high-rise evacuation task force, deploying more robust accessible transportation resources in...

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