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Written by: John Wolf on Monday, November 19, 2012 Posted in:

Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States late this October. The 1,000-mile-wide “Superstorm” flooded and extensively damaged streets, tunnels, subway lines, and countless homes and businesses and claimed at least 113 lives.  Millions were left without power, about two-thirds of them in New York and New Jersey. More than two weeks later, thousands were still without heat and electricity.

An unsettling thought, considering the cold and windy weather typical of the Northeast this time of year, and a difficult time for anyone impacted, but significantly more challenging for the elderly adults who depend on the support and services of others to successfully live independently in their homes.

Community-based programs that work to keep elderly adults in their homes, rather than in nursing homes and other institutional care settings, understand just how disruptive and damaging a disaster like Hurricane Sandy can be for their clients.

In a statement released by the New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NYSAAAA) to address the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Aging Network, Nancy Dingee, Director of Schoharie County Office for the Aging — and long-time Harmony customer, spoke for leaders in New York’s Aging Network when stating that “disasters tend to have the greatest impact on the people they represent – Older New Yorkers.”

The directors of more than 59 Area Agencies on Aging in New York had planned to convene for an annual Leadership Institute conference that would take place in Saratoga Springs from October 30 through November 1. The event was postponed due to the approaching storm. Agency leaders had intended to discuss several critical issues affecting their clients, but according to Laura Cameron, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging, “Hurricane Sandy is just the kind of event that keeps office for aging Directors at home because disasters have a way of hitting the most vulnerable populations the hardest.”

Dingee recalled the year Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused $73 million worth of damage in Schoharie County and describes how she and colleagues were able to access their web-based case management database “even before they were allowed to come back to work.” This enabled them to quickly identify vulnerable seniors and to “determine their location and well-being.”

“Case management and disaster relief continue to be priorities for the Schoharie County office for the Aging,“ Dingee stated.

To read the complete statement, visit http://www.nysaaaa.org/Leadership/2012/PressRelease10-29-12ImpactAgingNetwork.pdf.