The Special Needs Task Force is a group composed of health & adult service agencies in New Hanover County who volunteer in a disaster to evaluate resources and services that may be available for individuals who might need more help due to physical or medical limitations.
The Task Force has been meeting every four to six weeks since 1997 to develop plans and try to anticipate and eliminate problems that may occur. Many issues have been addressed since 1997 using a unified approach to remove obstacles that threaten the safety of special needs individuals during a disaster. In 1998 the Task Force sought legislation to enable health care facilities to participate in sheltering efforts. With strong determination the Task Force succeeded in getting North Carolina Senate Bill 34 ratified on July 1, 1999. Senate Bill 34 is “an act to permit the temporary waiver of certain rules and to provide immunity from liability for certain licensed health care facilities that provide temporary shelter or services during disasters and emergencies”. The SNTF emphasizes educating special needs individuals to be prepared for emergencies. Home Health Nurses and Oxygen Providers help their clients develop an Individual Family Disaster Plan and encourage a review of these plans at the start of Hurricane season in June. At-risk residents of New Hanover County should consider registering with the Special Needs Database. Your information will remain confidential. If a disaster occurs or is imminent, we will attempt to contact you to assist you in deciding what you should do. All at-risk individuals are encouraged to evacuate if at all possible as infrastructure damage, loss of communication, and overwhelmed emergency services may prohibit a timely response or restoration of life supporting electric power. If an event is known to be threatening, approximately 72 hours prior to impact the New Hanover County Department of Emergency Management requests the activation of the Individual Care Coordination Center (IC-3). This consists of a bank of telephones and volunteers from the participating agencies of the Special Needs Task Force. These volunteers work with special needs individuals on a daily basis and offer their services when special needs individuals are at greatest risk. Relocation of special needs individuals is reserved for those at highest risk whose Individual Disaster Plan has failed. Relocation is limited by the number of available beds in participating facilities.
The IC-3 was first activated with Hurricane Bonnie in 1998, and was also activated for Hurricanes Dennis, Floyd, and Irene in 1999, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Hurricane Charley in 2004, Hurricane Ophelia in 2005, Tropical Storm Hanna in 2008 and Hurricane Irene in 2011.