Over 700 area residents get trained by National Guard for future disasters

The auditorium of the High School for Health Professions and Human Services was packed with people, many from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village,  to be trained in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The auditorium of the High School for Health Professions and Human Services was packed with people, many from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, to be trained in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Over 700 community residents, many from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, received training in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard last Thursday evening, courtesy of a program initiated by Governor Cuomo and designed by the Department of Homeland Security.

The training was led by Captain Glenford Rose, who advised area residents to be aware of different kinds of emergencies, including fires and gas leaks, and not just Sandy-like disasters. Rose reminded residents, who had packed the auditorium at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, to stock up on supplies and to have a kit ready with everything needed in an emergency. Participants at the training received a knapsack full of necessities, but Rose emphasized that this kit was just a starting point and noted that individuals should make sure to customize their kit for their needs, such as accounting for pets, special medications and adding in various important documents.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez was at the event and had a tip of her own: fill the bathtub with water.

“But make sure the lock works,” she added. “I put water in mine and two hours later it was gone!”

A number of other local elected officials were involved in the event, including Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. City Councilman Dan Garodnick and State Senator Brad Hoylman also made appearances at the event, with both offering opening remarks for the training.

Garodnick recounted his experience with a group National Guard troops during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in which he led about 50 servicemen and women all the way through Stuyvesant Town, on a chilly November night while the power was still out, in an attempt to reach Waterside Plaza before they were met with a locked gate at the northeast corner of Peter Cooper Village.

“That was the end of my military career,” Garodnick joked.

The Manhattan CERT team also collaborated on the event with the governor’s office, in addition to New York State Community Affairs, the PCVST Management office and the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Ready New York liaison Virginia Rosario had put together 950 packets of materials to hand out at the event and ST-PCV Tenants Association president and Ready New York member John Marsh put together a flier that was posted in all Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village buildings, courtesy of management.

Alexandria Wiedenbaum and Sergeant Major Armando Lopez, helping people sign in and register for the training.  (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Alexandria Wiedenbaum and Sergeant Major Armando Lopez, helping people sign in and register for the training. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

There were 739 people at the training meeting, which wound up being the highest number of people that have been trained at a single event. Following the training last Thursday, there was an additional event in Lower Manhattan last weekend where 455 people were trained. Since the program was launched in February, the New York State National Guard has held 205 of these events and trained 27,245 people.

Erik Bottcher, a representative from Governor Cuomo’s office, said that he was thrilled with the turnout and said it probably won’t be the last opportunity for residents to find out about emergency preparedness.

“This is an ongoing project,” he said. “As a storm-affected area, there will definitely be more events here in the future.”

Garodnick noted after the event that the chaos following Hurricane Sandy increased awareness for emergency preparedness and since then the number of these kinds of events has increased.

“It is really important for people to be prepared for the unexpected and the expected in New York,” he said. “We’re no strangers to natural disasters or other emergencies but the time to focus on this issue is in a moment of calm. I think because of the number of people it affected and the duration of time that they were affected, (Hurricane Sandy) opened a lot of eyes toward emergency preparedness.”

Alexandria Wiedenbaum, who has been in the Army National Guard for over two years, usually leads trainings in Staten Island with Sergeant Major Armando Lopez. There are eight teams of throughout the state and each team is responsible for a different region, but Wiedenbaum said that she and Lopez, as well as others from teams throughout the state, had congregated at the Thursday training, because it was such a big event.

“This is our tax dollars invested,” Lopez said of the training sessions. “Sandy told us that there’s a problem. Sandy showed how many people weren’t prepared so we’re trying to change that.”

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Seniors attend East Midtown Plaza forum on emergency preparedness

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers
(Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the worst of hurricane season yet to come, since activity in the Atlantic picks up the most from August through October, the Office of Emergency Management offered a presentation for the East Midtown Plaza senior committee last Tuesday evening.

John Greenwood, a Human Services Planning Specialist for the OEM, and members of Community Board 6’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) explained the importance of emergency preparedness for seniors, including evacuation protocol in the event of a disaster and the new hurricane zones, at the monthly meeting. Greenwood noted that the hurricane guide changed after Hurricane Sandy and that instead of three lettered zones, there are now six numbered zones.

Committee co-chair Jeanne Poindexter added that the buildings East Midtown Plaza are in three different evacuation zones and that any of the buildings located on First Avenue are highly susceptible to flooding.

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

The new hurricane maps, which were made available at the meeting, are also available online or zones can be found out by calling 311 and Greenwood said that although they’re not the most pleasant place, it’s important for residents to know where the evacuation centers are as well, which are also noted on the maps.

“They’re just a giant room with cots and the food isn’t the greatest, but it’s good to know where they are in case you have to go,” he said.

He added that pets are allowed in all of the evacuation centers and Baruch College is the closest handicap accessible facility that functions as an evacuation center. There are 10 facilities throughout the city that are handicap accessible and meet all the ADA requirements but Greenwood said they haven’t been noted on the map yet. Greenwood noted that one of the reasons for the changes in zones is money.

“The mayor is the only one who can make the call for evacuations but it’s a multimillion dollar decision,” he said. “With the changes in the zones, there are now less people per zone so it won’t encompass as many residents if evacuations have to take place.”

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Greenwood also told the seniors at the meeting that it’s important to have an emergency plan and to fill out the “Ready New York” packets that detail important information for residents to have at hand in case of an emergency, like contact phone numbers and any medical conditions. “That’s beneficial for you because if you show up at an evacuation center with this guide, they’ll have all the information already and can give you the best care if you need help,” he said.

Virginia Rosario, a member of the CB6 CERT and a resident of Stuyvesant Town, explained what her responsibilities are as a member of the team and how she is prepared to help other residents if disaster strikes. “We’ve been trained by the OEM and we’re only deployed when the office gives permission,” Rosario said. “We weren’t deployed during Hurricane Sandy because most of CB6 was down but some volunteers can help with things like bringing water to residents.”

Upcoming Community Events: Town Hall for ST/PCV Residents, Con Ed Work and More

Town hall for residents
A town hall meeting for residents will be held at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center on Tuesday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. ST/PCV General Manager Sean Sullivan will be on hand to answer questions. The Stuyvesant Town Community Center is located at 449 East 14th Street.

ConEdison Emergency Repairs
ConEdison will be performing emergency work on their steam facilities in various buildings throughout Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, CompassRock announced via email. There will be an interruption of steam and hot water service for approximately eight hours from 11 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7 to 7 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8 at the following buildings: 522 East 20th Street, 524 East 20th Street, 526 East 20th Street, 530 East 20th Street, 18 Stuyvesant Oval, 20 Stuyvesant Oval, 531 East 20th Street, 541 East 20th Street, 601 East 20th Street, 6 Peter Cooper Road, 7 Peter Cooper Road and 8 Peter Cooper Road. For more information on this outage, call ConEdison at (212) 894-9540.

Ready New York
The Midtown East-Stuyvesant CERT/MN6 will host a Ready New York presentation for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:30 p.m. This demonstration, which will be presented by CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), a group of volunteers trained by the NYC Office of Emergency Management, will help residents prepare their homes and go-bags to assist them before and after an emergency. Email rnymn6@yahoo.com to attend. The event will take place at the Podell Auditorium (Bernstein Pavilion) on East 16th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Emergency Preparedness for Senior Citizens
The Office of Emergency Management and The Department for the Aging will present “Prepare Don’t Scare,” an emergency preparedness event for Peter Cooper/Stuyvesant Town’s senior citizen residents next Wednesday, May 15 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Stuyvesant Town community center, 449 East 14th Street (off of East 16th Street and the First Avenue Loop).

CB6 BASA meeting
The Business Affairs and Street Activities committee for Community Board 6 will be having their monthly meeting on Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m. and will be discussing new Senate and Assembly bills that would create a community liaison between the state liquor authority and community boards, and would establish a New York City liquor authority to regulate the retail alcoholic beverage business in the city, respectively. The location for the meeting has not yet been determined. Call CB6 at (212) 319-3750 for updated information.