Group Hosts Summit To Ready Rockaway For Disaster
There are just three routes to enter and leave Rockaway, two of which flood. There are also just two main roadways going east to west. Combine that with the fact that the population of the peninsula has grown by 20 percent since the 2000 census to approximately 128,000 people - if a disaster were to strike Rockaway, thousands could be stranded with no way to safety.
With that in mind Ready Rockaway, a group of local stakeholders, hosted an Emergency Preparedness Summit last month to develop community preparedness plans and ways to engage the community before disaster does strike.
Ready Rockaway is comprised of residents and professionals in the field of emergency preparedness from Addabbo Center and Peninsula Hospital Center who hope to educate residents about what to do in various kinds of emergencies. Zandra Myers of Addabbo Family Health Center and the executive director of Ready Rockaway, first hooked up with Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) five years ago.
"You get all this training and you have to give it back," said Myers at the April 21 summit. "You have to go out into the community and do what you're supposed to do at some point. You just can't keep taking it all in."
Joining Myers and her executive team at the summit were representatives from PCDC, which has helped more than 60 health care centers almost double their emergency readiness levels, and Community Health Care of New York State.
Through power point presentations, lectures and a break out workshop Ready Rockaway prioritized a set of seven goals and activities to accomplish.
Among those goals are to engage and involve community leadership, establish a communication system for relationships with partners and community groups and engage and empower the community through tools such as education.
A representative for Councilman James Sanders Jr. announced that her boss had allocated $40,000 to help the organization. The plan is to use the money to distribute 'go bags' of essentials that everyone should have in case an evacuation is necessary. Myers also said the organization will use some of the funds to help locals, who can't afford it, to scan important papers and transfer the information to a flash drive that can be easily carried.
"People need to be educated - small and large," said Myers. "We want to educate the community about 'go bags,' [and] sheltering in place. We want to mobilize the community about emergency preparedness, that they should have a household plan."
She added, "This group of people is going to make sure that when we leave here we're going to do what we're supposed to do. We're going to do the things we have been learning to do over the years."
In addition to Myers the executive team includes Michael Valentino, Miquel Jimenez, Julie Hassing, Saundra Chislom, Darnley Jones and Mark Pinter. For more information on Ready Rockaway go to http://ready rockaway.org.
Representatives from Community Board 14, Peninsula and St. John's Episcopal Hospitals, the FDNY, the city's Office of Emergency Management, and the Red Cross also attended the summit.