This week, I happened to be on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) page of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. (I was creating a link for a previous blog post which suggested CERT as one way to answer President Obama’s call for Americans to volunteer in their communities.)
While on the site, I was pleasantly surprised to see an article under the headline “CERT In Action” which featured the work of my local team — the East Side Neighborhood Association (ESNA)-CERT — along with a couple other Manhattan teams during the two major construction crane accidents which occurred last year. As the article explains:
Two crane collapses this year have left New York City residents reeling. The first collapse occurred March 15, 2008 and the second happened May 30, 2008. The massive damages included nine deaths and thousands of dollars in destroyed property. CERT members from Manhattan Community Board (CB) 8 Upper East Side, Manhattan CB8 East Side Neighborhood Association (ESNA), and Manhattan CB6 staffed the human services reception center immediately following the incident.
CERTs remained on the scene for 4 days, continuously rotating their personnel in order to provide constant assistance in the recovery effort. Six days after the collapse, Upper East Side CERT members and ESNA CERT members again volunteered their services. The city’s Office of Emergency Management mobilized these two CERT units on June 5th to help escort residents back to their homes.
This is a typical responsibility of CERT teams here in New York augmenting the work of uniformed personnel during and then after emergencies. I wrote a post on the blog with some of the lessons I learned from the incidents about citizen preparedness.
In the DHS article, there is also a photo of yours truly trying his best to balance cases of bottled water so they could be delivered to apartment residents in the impacted area: