Brooklyn Boro

OPINION: Emergency preparedness and lessons about service

September 1, 2017 By Liam McCabe For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy of McCabe's office
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We have had many reminders about the importance of emergency preparedness over the last few days: neighborhood fires here in Brooklyn, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, terror attacks in Spain, and the upcoming anniversaries of September 11 and Hurricane Sandy.

As we begin September, National Preparedness Month, I want to take a moment to run down some of the best ways to prepare, helpful resources to use, and reminders about lessons learned through hard times.

For individuals and families in our neighborhoods, here are the best tips to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergency events:

1. Check all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and replace if needed.

2. Create an Emergency Plan that includes where and how you take shelter within your home, and where and how you will evacuate your home.

3. Create an Emergency Communication Plan includes contact information for doctors, emergency contacts, school and work.  According to FEMA, “text is best” so make sure you keep that in mind when you need to communicate with family, friends and caregivers in emergency situations.

4. Remember your pets! Include plans for taking your pets with you or finding alternate safe shelter for your pets in case of a natural disaster or emergency evacuation.

5. Keep your documents safe and make sure insurance is up-to-date. Store important documents in water-safe, portable containers so you can grab them and go during an evacuation.

6. Keep your car’s gas tank filled

7. Stock up on bottled water

8. Practice your Emergency Plan.  If you practice your plan a few times a year, when emergency strikes, it will be easier for you to remain calm and carry it out.

9. Put your family on the list to receive Emergency Alerts, including Wireless Emergency Alerts from FEMA.

When tragedy strikes a city like it did in Houston this week and as it has done in New York, we see the power and the dedication of our first responders, from volunteer organizations like Bravo, to the NYPD, FDNY, and US Coast Guard, to individuals and elected officials who put aside everything else to roll up their sleeves and help each other.

It was through working on Hurricane Sandy relief with the Congressman that it became most clear to me that being entrusted as an elected official means that you dedicate yourself to service of your neighbors above everything else.  When Hurricane Sandy hit, we turned our base of operations into a command central for aid.  We were supposed to be campaigning.  Instead, we focused all of our efforts on helping people get food, clean water and fresh clothes.  Together with the team, I pumped water out of basements, and first floors of homes ravaged by the storm.  I met people who had lost everything and helped them go through the process of building back their lives with the help of local and federal government.

We need to do more.  We need to prepare for emergencies, and we need to strengthen our infrastructure to keep us safer.

We need to work together and, as those in office and those seeking office, we need to remember, always, that we are here to serve our neighbors, to make your lives a little easier and to support you in times of need.  

I salute the brave men and women of New York who are in Texas or on their way to Texas to help with everything from search and rescue to operations management.  Stay safe.


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