While Saturday, Sept. 27, may have been a gorgeous, warm day in the Greater New York Region, for hundreds of Red Cross volunteers and staff members across Long Island, New York City, and Metro New York North, it was the day that a catastrophic event, “Hurricane Helena,” devastated the area.
The fictional Hurricane Helena, modeled as the most destructive hurricane in decades, made landfall in our region, bringing with her untold destruction and displacing tens of thousands of residents. More than 500 volunteers and staff members dedicated significant time and effort to this full-scale disaster exercise that ran from early morning to late afternoon.
Joining volunteers and staff for this exercise were dozens of Red Cross nonprofit community partners and government partners, ranging from small faith-based groups to large nonprofit organizations to key offices of emergency management from towns and cities across our area.
Here are highlights of what was achieved during the Saturday exercise play to help tens of thousands of residents in our area. Red Crossers opened five shelters and four bulk distribution sites:
Shelters on Long Island:
Shelters in Metro New York North:
Four Red Cross bulk distribution sites were also opened—on Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn and in Holbrook, NY., to distribute needed items, including blankets and clean-up kits, to those affected by the fictional hurricane.
Additionally, the Red Cross Disaster Kitchen in Middletown, New York, was up and running, preparing meals for “affected residents” and exercise players.
“I want to thank all of our volunteers, including several board members, as well as all staff members who participated in Saturday’s exercise,” said Greater NY Chief Disaster Officer Kelly McKinney. “This exercise will help to empower our team to develop key takeaways that will be invaluable when large-scale disasters do occur.”
Josh Lockwood, Greater NY CEO added, “In addition to thanking all the participants, we also want to thank two generous board members, Peter and Elisa Rapaport, who helped to underwrite this important exercise. Saturday’s ‘storm’ will help to ensure that every Red Crosser in Greater New York is even more prepared to help our communities when disasters strike.”
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/gny or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossNY.