2006-11-10 / Columnists

Cross Currents

Helping Rockaway Residents To Prevent, Prepare For And Respond To Emergencies
Commentary By Joan A. Foley Director, Queens Chapter American Red Cross

JOAN A.FOLEY JOAN A.FOLEY Joan A. Foley is director of the American Red Cross in Greater New York-Queens (138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood).

To learn about classes, volunteer opportunities and how to support programs in the Rockaways, call 718-558-0053 or email crosscurrents@ nyredcross.org.

More information about the Red Cross can be found at www. nyredcross.org .

Welcome to the premiere of Cross Currents , the monthly column from the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY). We thank The Wave and Managing Editor Howard Schwach for the opportunity to communicate directly with Rockaway residents to provide information about Red Cross services and programs in the area and throughout Queens.

The Red Cross is a humanitarian partner and a key participant in New York's plans and programs to help the nine million people in New York City and Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Sullivan Counties prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The largest Red Cross chapter in the U.S., ARC/GNY provides immediate aid to more than 100,000 people affected by more than 3,000 emergencies a year, including fires, floods, building collapses and blackouts.

`ARC/GNY helps New York residents and businesses prepare for emergencies by offering hundreds of courses in first aid, CPR and aquatics, along with free emergency preparedness training programs and resources. ARC/GNY is not a governmental organization, and it relies on volunteers, individual and corporate gifts, special events and grants from foundations and local, state and federal governments to support these essential programs and services.

As elsewhere, emergencies such as fires and flooding occur every day in the Rockaways.

The area also is highly vulnerable to coastal storms. Coupled with a large population of seniors and a significant number of facilities that serve seniors and others with special needs, Red Cross training, some of it in collaboration with city agencies, is critical to help Rockaway residents prepare for emergencies.

During September, we visited Beach 116 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, and the intersection of Mott and Central Avenues to distribute valuable preparedness information.

During October, we held emergency preparedness events for residents at the Peninsula Adult Learning Center, at the NYC Housing Authority Edgemere Center. Additional programs are planned and we will inform you about dates and locations right here in Cross Currents.

We Are Here To Help

The largest Red Cross emergency response in the Rockaways occurred five years ago this month - the crash of American Airlines flight 587.

The New York chapter deployed nine emergency response vehicles, known as ERVs, with many staff members and volunteers, to the Rockaways during that emergency. We provided water and meals to assist emergency crews, rescue workers and residents who were affected by the crash.

Our mental health counselors also comforted the families of those who were on the plane and people on the ground who had to evacuate their neighborhood.

This Sunday, November 12,, during the commemoration of the anniversary of this tragedy, the Red Cross will be present for the unveiling of a new memorial wall on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street.

As in past years, approximately 20 Red Cross volunteers will provide family members of the victims with any comfort services that were needed during the ceremony.

Imagine New York Without the Red Cross

For almost 100 years, the Red Cross has helped people in the Rockaways and throughout Queens who have been affected by emergencies.

Last year, ARC/GNY responded to 749 emergencies in the borough, assisting 2,859 adults and children with food, shelter and/or counseling. Through September of this year, we have responded to 628 emergencies, assisting 2,391 adults and children.

In addition, we responded to tens of thousands of Queens residents who were affected by this past summer's blackout.

We distributed more than 100,000 hot and cold meals, 125,000 bottles of water/juice, snacks, fresh fruit, ice and, when needed, baby formula.

Working Together, We Can Save Lives

Future Cross Currents will provide information about Red Cross classes that include first aid, CPR and training for lifeguards and babysitters. We even offer classes for cat and dog first aid.

You will receive tips and information that will help you and your family prepare for and respond to emergencies.

You also will learn more about our various services and meet some of the volunteers who are dedicated to helping their neighbors.

We look forward to doing great things every day for and with the people of the Rockaways.

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