Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00
While experts have predicted a near-normal hurricane season, it’s important to remember that normal means the possibility of 9-15 named storms. After Hurricane Irene last August, I don’t need to remind Long Islanders that it only takes one storm to force evacuations, damage homes, and leave nearly a half-million homes in the dark—many for days. And to think, Irene was downgraded to tropical storm when it made landfall here.
In preparation for Irene, the American Red Cross opened shelters from North Carolina to Maine—including 31 of them on Long Island. When the storm passed, Red Cross volunteers provided food, water and other emergency supplies to those affected.
The public expects that we will be there when disaster strikes. What many don’t know is that the American Red Cross is not a government agency, it is a charity. We are ready to respond to disasters like Irene for two simple reasons: the spirit of our volunteers and the generosity of donors.
And while Americans are very generous after disasters take place, we need their support ahead of time. Volunteers have to be recruited and trained. Supplies have to be procured and positioned. The gas tanks in our vehicles have to be filled.
Additionally, there are nearly 70,000 disasters that take place across the country each year that will never grab any headlines—mainly home fires. Tell someone who has watched their hopes and dreams go up in flames that their emergency is any less of a disaster than a hurricane.
As we enter this hurricane season, I ask Long Islanders to remember that our area is vulnerable to nature’s fury. Don’t wait until a storm is approaching our shoreline. Be prepared now by assembling enough supplies to sustain your family for 3-5 days. Find out what the emergency plan for your community is and develop a plan for your family. We all lead busy lives, but disaster can strike at any time.
I also ask that Long Islanders help the American Red Cross be ready by becoming a volunteer or making a donation—after all, help can’t wait. To learn more about our efforts locally, visit www.nyredcross.org or call (516) 747-3500.
John Miller, CEO
American Red Cross on Long Island