Being Chronically Ill in a Disaster Zone. As Usual, the Social Safety Net is All Holes and No Net. Also, Don’t Donate to the Red Cross.

This video was posted 2 days ago and documents the realities of living and surviving in the wake of a natural disaster, in this case, the ongoing volcanic eruptions on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Some of the evacuees and displaced homeowners are elderly, disabled and/or chronically ill and their lives have been turned upside down by clouds of toxic gasses and rivers of lava running through their homes and communities and their situations are being made worse by the lack of reliable social services available to anyone under these conditions.  But being chronically ill, disabled, and dependent on medication on top of the “normal” disaster-related stresses healthy people are also experiencing is proving to be unbearable and people are starting to crack under the strain.  One 81-year old diabetic man is living with his 83-year old wife in tent in the shelter parking lot, doesn’t have his medication, and the Red Cross is not helping them and is only making things worse with their bureaucratic red tape making displaced and chronically ill people jump through ridiculous hoops just to have their basic needs met with shelter, food, water and medical care.

I can really relate to these people because I was becoming intolerably ill in late 2012 just as Hurricane Sandy wrecked the east coast and I lost my apartment and was essentially homeless, and had no choice but to move back in with my now ex-partner’s mother where I slept on a couch for 6 months, and then on a toddler bed for another 6 months during which time I was becoming increasingly and devastatingly ill.  Since then, based on that experience and others I have had since I first fell ill with a serious chronic illness, I have realized that it is frequently not the illness itself that causes all or even most of the problems chronically ill people face, but it is the lack of resources and social and financial support available to sick people under the best circumstances that make our already grossly diminished lives unbearable.  When we are also faced with extenuating circumstances like natural disasters and living and surviving in a disaster zone, often with no power, climate control, food, water, medication or other necessities of life it becomes an intolerable burden, and these disaster-related consequences can go on for months and even years, long after the public and geographically-distant friends and relatives have moved on and forgotten.

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