The Power of Planning: Emergency Preparedness Resources for Oregonians with Developmental Disabilities

 “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near (one),” wrote J.R.R. Tolkein.

While 2020 hasn’t threatened us with dragons (yet), Tolkein’s quote certainly resonates: know the risks around you and when you can, make a plan. This year has brought Oregonians plenty to contend with: a pandemic, historic windstorms and wildfires, serious air quality concerns, and flash floods. Some situations we could have planned for, others required in-the-moment creativity and a willingness to roll with the changes.

This spring, many families (my own included) faced major challenges when a loved one was admitted to the hospital and we were told that, due to COVID-19, visitors weren’t allowed inside as a support. This left families across the country scrambling to figure out what to do in an unprecedented situation. Disability advocates and Oregon policymakers worked swiftly to craft a bill that would afford Oregonians the right to have a support person by their side when hospitalized, even during a pandemic. The result was the passage of Senate Bill 1606 in July.  Nothing is more essential than being able to communicate one’s needs in the midst of a crisis – and this essential piece of legislation has secured us a right we didn’t have just a few short months ago.

In the week following Labor Day, communities throughout our state area experienced unprecedented winds and wildfires. At Independence Northwest brokerage, we serve about 500 Oregonians with disabilities and at one point, one-third of those we serve were in evacuation zones. The fires in Clackamas County moved swiftly and on countless occasions, calls from our agency marked the first time many people we serve were notified that they were under evacuation orders. Some families had to-go bags and plans in place; others had to create immediate plans to pack up and leave the area. Some knew where they would go, others had to rethink everything because other friends and family were under evacuation orders as well. The rapid nature of the event underscored one truth: even the best-laid plans can change.

It’s tempting to put off planning. Given just how challenging the year has already been, it may even be hard to find motivation right now. Sometimes it’s hard to even know how to get the conversation started. We’ve pulled together a list of resources for you to check out to help you start (or re-visit) conversations with  those you love. Plans don’t have to be perfect – and sometimes just having a conversation can make all the difference.

 – Larry Deal, Executive Director

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of the NWDSA/All Born (In) Newsletter.




We welcome your feedback. If you have additional resources you’d like us to consider posting, please email Larry Deal at larry(at) Thanks!