Time was when New Yorkers rarely thought twice about disasters except when they watched movies such as “Airport,” “Earthquake,” “War of the Worlds” and “King Kong.”
Then came 9/11, and people suddenly had to take the threat of terrorism seriously. But that wasn’t the end of it. Two years later came the blackout, bringing back memories of the blackouts of 1965 and 1977 for older New Yorkers. This past fall, New Yorkers watching their TVs saw monstrous hurricanes hit Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. They began to wonder, could this happen here, too?
Maybe. But while there’s not much you can do in the event of a surprise terror attack, most disasters happen with at least some advance warning, and there are plans in place to mitigate the impact on local residents. And this is true not only for sudden, dramatic disasters like hurricanes, but also for less photogenic but no less deadly problems like prolonged heat waves or sub-zero temperatures, as well.
Help is Here
All sorts of agencies and organizations exist in our region to help ordinary people contend with extraordinary circumstances, from the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to neighborhood volunteer teams to the Red Cross. And there are many ways that your co-op or condo board or management can help out.
To begin with, disaster planning is not new. “Before 9/11, it was much the same as today. We had a robust emergency response system, with a lot of interagency planning,” says Andrew Troisi, a spokesman for the OEM.