LINCOLN — The elderly man dependent on oxygen, the paralyzed teenager using a wheelchair, the woman who just had her hip replaced or the young mother with no car and no relatives nearby.
These are just some of the people who might need special attention in times of disaster.
Nebraska lawmakers took a step Friday toward ensuring that such people are not overlooked when floods hit, wildfires threaten, power goes out or other emergencies occur.
The Legislature gave first-round approval to Legislative Bill 434, introduced by State Sen. Scott Price of Bellevue.
The bill directs state emergency management officials to work with local agencies on developing registries of people with particular needs in their areas.
State Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln said such registries are meant to help people who may be alone and unable to care for themselves in a disaster.
“It's meant to help Mrs. Smith down the street get out of her home safely,” she said.
Price said the federal government has required such registries for years in areas surrounding nuclear power plants.
Fort Calhoun-area residents get letters every year or so asking if they want to be on the registries, he said. Participation is voluntary.
Since Hurricane Katrina, which caused extensive flooding in New Orleans and damage in several Gulf Coast communities, the federal government is requiring more extensive use of such registries, Price said.
Under an amendment adopted Friday, the new registries also would be voluntary.
In addition, LB 434 would shield them from public records requests.
Several senators had questions about how the lists would be developed and used. They also wondered who would be considered eligible for the registries.
Price said the registries would be for people who may have a variety of special needs.
They could be people with medical needs, people who require special supervision, people who do not know English, children, the elderly and people without transportation.
The needs could be temporary, such as a person recovering from surgery, or permanent.
Al Berndt, director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said some cities and public health departments already are working on such registries. He said the lists would be developed at the local level.
In response to concerns about people being forced to leave their homes, he said that being on a registry would not obligate people to a particular response.
Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln suggested that guardians and conservators be allowed to put their charges on the list.
She also suggested that Price consult with groups that might be affected by the bill before bringing it back for second-round consideration.
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