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Judge rules NYC violated Americans With Disabilities Act

People help clean up one of the storm-damaged homes following Hurricane Sandy in the Belle Harbor section in the borough of Queens on November 6, 2012 in New York City. UPI /Monika Graff
People help clean up one of the storm-damaged homes following Hurricane Sandy in the Belle Harbor section in the borough of Queens on November 6, 2012 in New York City. UPI /Monika Graff | License Photo

NEW YORK, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A federal judge ruled New York City violated the rights of residents with disabilities by failing to provide adequately for their needs during emergencies.

Judge Jesse M. Furman's ruling came Thursday in a lawsuit filed in 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene, during which New Yorkers were evacuated.

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The case was thrown into sharper focus after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when many wheelchair-bound residents were trapped inside their homes without food, water or electricity, The New York Times reported.

Furman said the city violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not properly preparing to assist those with disabilities during crises.

"The mountain of evidence and argument confirms that planning for, and responding to, emergencies and disasters is a herculean task, and that, in many -- perhaps most -- respects, the city has done an outstanding job," the judge wrote. "But it also reveals that while the city's emergency preparedness program adequately accommodates the needs of people with disabilities in some respects, it fails to do so in others," he said.

"Most significantly, the city's plans are inadequate to ensure that people with disabilities are able to evacuate before or during an emergency; they fail to provide sufficiently accessible shelters; and they do not sufficiently inform people with disabilities of the availability and location of accessible emergency services," Furman added.

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