In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, disability rights activists Nick Dupree and Alejandra Ospina were trapped in their twelfth floor apartment, unable to evacuate because the elevators had shut down — and even if they could get downstairs, they couldn’t access transit or a safe space to evacuate. Nick needed a ventilator to breathe along with other powered medical equipment for survival, relying on heavy and expensive batteries that lasted only a few hours before needing to be recharged.
If New York City had a functional and well-outlined plan for disabled residents, Nick and Alejandra would have faced a disruption in their daily lives, but a manageable one. Instead, they faced the very real risk of losing their lives — until social media users across the country united to get help to the stranded couple. They, like many other disabled New Yorkers, relied on the kindness of strangers to survive the storm, and unwittingly highlighted the city’s indifferent approach to disaster planning.