While few could foresee the destruction and mayhem that Superstorm Sandy wrought on so many communities, Misaskim’s preparedness program was a key element in responding to the storm. This week, Misaskim leaders reviewed its response during Sandy as a model of being prepared to respond to any eventuality in the future. It reviewed its School Notification System which it set in motion days before the storm ravaged the area. Working in conjunction with Brooklyn South of the NYPD, Misaskim was in constant touch with schools. It was also used to disseminate information to communities in the path of the storm.
Misaskim’s Emergency Operations Center, which played such a key role in coordinating efforts by other community organizations was recently upgraded. Generators that would provide emergency power in the event of a blackout are fully ready. An important aspect of the preparedness for the EOC is its ability to stay in touch with commanding officers of Brooklyn South, coordinating communications between law enforcement and the community. The EOC also was able to field calls from people unable to reach 911 and forward the requests for help to local precents.
In its review, Misaskim focused on the readiness of its fleet of vehicles and the supply of generators which it used during Sandy to distribute to homebound patients on life support equipment. A generator was delivered to the central Hatzolah to help in the event of a power outage. It even provided generators and a light tower to a wedding being held in Ateres Chaya Sara. In New Square, Misaskim provided generators and a light tower for the Refuah Health since the community was in the dark for more than a week.
For Misaskim, this level of preparedness has become a basic part of its program. Equipment like generators and light towers are constantly checked and maintained, with additional units being added to assure that Misaskim is prepared to meet any eventuality. The Emergency Operations Center is on standby and ready to be activated on a moment’s notice. Misaskim officials are pushing to add even more capacity so that it could properly serve more communities.
The Misaskim review that included all aspects of the response to Sandy also covered many other programs, including its Mes Mitzvah program, autopsy and cremation avoidance, and of course, its signature shiva furniture effort.
For Misaskim volunteers who were involved in the response during Super Storm Sandy, there was a sense of appreciation at Misakim’s main mission of preparedness. Volunteers that hitched up generators and light towers had the confidence that the equipment was in working order. Lives were saved in many instances because of the availability of the generators. If anything was learned from Sandy, it was that the community cannot take anything for granted and that preparedness through an organization like Misaskim is invaluable.