Disabled residents in NY and NJ weather Sandy


(CBS News) Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in the Northeast this week, and while many residents faced hardship, New York and New Jersey's disabled community faced the storm as one of the most vulnerable segments of society.

Thousands of developmentally disabled people faced power outages and food shortages and their caregivers sacrifices their own needs in order to see the disabled through the storm.

Kirsten Nataro is a health specialist at a group home for the mentally disabled on Long Island and she spoke with CBS News' Willem Marx about the impact of the storm at the home.

Nataro is one of five caregivers caring for ten residents who are housed at a home that has had no power since Monday.

"It's not greatly lit," Nataro said. "We don't want any accidents."

She added that "it's the daily disruption" that most residents find particularly upsetting. "It just rocks their world to a different extent than I think a lot of people understand...regiment and schedule makes it a lot easier for them to function on a daily basis."

Stephen Freeman, the CEO of the Young Adult Institute (YAI) network, the largest organization serving the disabled in New York, and Courtney Burke, the commissioner of the New York state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to expand on the impact of Sandy on the disabled communities of the tri-state area.

Freeman said his organization continued to operate this week due to the "tremendous response from our staff...they really are the people who are the heroes in this story."

Burke added that her office has been working to prioritize the needs of the disabled and to catalogue where people have lost power and get them needed supplies promptly.

"It has been a great partnership between the state, between the non-profits," she added.