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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Roosevelt Island Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Members Assist Families Left Homeless By Elmhurst Queens Fire Earlier This Month

According to the NYC Office of Emergency Management:

New York City Community Emergency Response Teams (NYC CERT) are groups of dedicated volunteers who help to prepare their neighbors and communities for different types of disasters. NYC CERT falls under the Community Outreach unit within New York City Emergency Management, the City's coordinating agency for organizations and agencies involved in emergency planning, education, and information dissemination.

Register to join through the NYC CERT online volunteer management database....
Roosevelt Island CERT member Frank Farance participated in NYC CERT relief efforts to assist the residents of an Elmhurst Queens building left homeless by fire.

Mr Farance shares these photos and reports:
Both Gwen Ryals and I from the Roosevelt Island CERT (community emergency response team) responded to the April 11 Elmhurst fire,

we were staffing the service center: Gwen on Friday April 14, and myself on Saturday, April 15 and Wednesday April 19.

I can't emphasize enough how important this is to local residents: 112 families were homeless (about half have been able to return),

many needed multiple services, and NYC Emergency Management and American Red Cross (ARC) locate all the agencies in the same spot.

 CERT members do client intake, arrange for translators if necessary, and coordinate the clients among the agencies and services. ARC does the food and emergency shelter.

The City agencies present for this incident are:

- Mayor's office for immigrant assistance
- Human Resources Administration (HRA), provides temporary work/assistance
- Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), provides temporary housing and resettlement back into the apartments
- American Red Cross (ARC), provides immediate shelter, medical needs
- non-profit organization: immediate cash assistance
- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH): crisis counseling, support

Also, these "shelters" or "service centers" are probably not what people have in mind: they are decent, safe, and well-lit facilities ... very different from the horror stories people hear about homeless shelters. If there is some evacuation emergency, such as a hurricane, these kinds of emergency shelters will be operating.