With the memories of Superstorm Sandy still raw for many New Jerseyans, representatives from the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Verizon gathered on Friday (Sept. 27) with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to stress the importance of disaster preparedness, emergency communications and volunteerism. The officials also detailed the tools available to help people prepare for emergencies or disasters.
The meeting, held at the Jersey City Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security command center on Summit Avenue, also highlighted the fact that September is National Preparedness Month.
“We saw firsthand the vital role that volunteers played in assisting neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” said Fulop. “Jersey City is fortunate to have a civic-oriented community with residents who stepped up and helped others, even though their own homes and families were impacted. Our CERT team is training even more volunteers in emergency preparedness so we will have trained volunteers in place for any future events.”
Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey region, discussed the Red Cross’ continuing Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts in the state and highlighted the massive Red Cross response in New Jersey, which included the work of more than 4,000 Red Cross volunteers during the months following the storm last October. The organization issued a call for people to volunteer with the Red Cross and get involved in their communities.
“National Preparedness Month is a great time to sign up and volunteer,” said Nelessen. “Register now and receive the training necessary to step forward immediately to assist your community during times of disaster.”
The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies, including developing an emergency plan. Aone-touch “I’m safe” messaging feature for mobile devices allows users to instantly broadcast reassurance — via pre-set text, email and social media outlets — to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way. The apps cover hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and first aid and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
Additional free tools are available at redcross.org/npm and include a Family Disaster Plan template, available in both English and Spanish; emergency checklists; and interactive games and activities to ease children’s fears about the unexpected.
“Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency or disaster occurs,” said Nelessen. “Disasters can strike quickly and without warning, giving people only minutes to react. Planning ahead can help keep everyone safe, and the Red Cross makes it easy to do.”
Paul Sullivan, region president for Verizon New Jersey, discussed how the company prepares for events that could affect its wireline and wireless networks and the services it makes available for emergency responders and communities, and provides useful tips for customers to follow as they prepare for emergencies or weather events.
“Preparation is key,” said Sullivan. “At Verizon we do our best to ensure that our customers stay connected during bad weather, whether is it setting up mobile phone banks in areas experiencing phone outages or having repair crews work round-the-clock to restore service for customers impacted by severe weather. We also encourage our customers to be proactive and make necessary communications preparations when major storms are approaching.”
Verizon also can deploy its Emergency Response Mobile Communications Service Fleet, which provides critical communications services in a disaster area. The company also has a disaster recovery fleet, which consists of a 51-foot Verizon Mobile Command Center, two 53-foot emergency communications calling centers and one 40-foot executive coach emergency communications center.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Verizon’s emergency fleet of vehicles and self-contained emergency inflatable-air shelters assisted public-safety and disaster-recovery organizations in places like Hazlet, Hoboken and Ortley Beach. These mobile stations provided organizations with communications, Internet and video capabilities in hard-hit areas.
Verizon employees, Verizon Wireless customers and the Verizon Foundation donated more than $6 million to Sandy relief and rebuilding efforts. In addition, more than 7,000 Verizon employees donated to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army through the Verizon Foundation’s matching gifts program.
The Jersey City Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security proactively plans for hazards, works to reduce threats and prepares Jersey City citizens to respond to and recover from a disaster.
The OEM is responsible for providing mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and coordination for large-scale emergencies and disasters, both natural and human-caused, to the citizens of Jersey City for the purpose of saving lives and preventing property damage.
The director of the OEM is the Jersey City representative to the Jersey City/Newark Urban Area Security Initiative Executive Board, responsible for the development, coordination, and management of Department of Homeland Security (DHS funding related to terrorism, man-made or natural disaster prevention and protective measures.)
For more information on emergency preparedness, including helpful tips for consumers and businesses, visit the Red Cross at www.redcross.org/prepare. Verizon provides updates on preparations for and response to hurricanes or other serious natural or man-made events at www.verizon.com/news, www.verizonwireless.com/news or www.verizonenterprise.com/about/news.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org.
About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 419 local disasters, helping 929 families displaced by home fires; collected more than 20,000 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; helped 884 military families send emergency messages, receive financial assistance, and get counseling and referrals; and trained 143,344 individuals with life-saving skills in CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 100 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries. A Dow 30 company with nearly $116 billion in 2012 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 180,900. For more information, visit about.verizon.com.