Emergency Preparedness Goes Grassroots

If New York City faces another catastrophe on the scale of September 11, city residents now are more prepared for the aftermath. The question is: Are our primary care health centers, churches, businesses and other community institutions charged with taking care of us? On June 2, that question brought together a spirited group of 36 community leaders and professionals living, working in or representing Manhattan’s Community District 5, which roughly encompasses the area south of Central Park between Lexington Avenue and 8th Ave from Columbus Circle to Union Square. During a six-hour meeting, the group drafted a plan–one of only five district-level plans that have been crafted in the city– to enhance the area’s emergency preparedness by coordinating the sharing of medicines, health professionals and other resources.”There should be criteria to access the resources so no one can hoard [them]” a middle-aged woman told the group, which sat clustered around her in a nearly empty auditorium. “There should be criteria for how you access what you need and organizations should be held accountable for the resources that they use.”A man who sat nearby – David Fortino, the Region II program manager of Citizen Corps, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that coordinates volunteer emergency response teams – raised an additional issue.

The North Shore Traces A Toxic Legacy

Once, 170 years ago, there was a factory on Staten Island, and the factory made lead. Some of the lead got into the ground. In the 1920s the factory caught fire and burned down. The lead stayed. 60 years later, people from the Environmental Protection Agency came to see about cleaning the lead up, but they couldn’t find it; the property owner had given them the wrong address.

White House “Drug Czar” Visits The Bronx

Gil Kerlikowske, the White House “Drug Czar” (center, in white) stands with students and staff beside an anti-drug mural outside the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in Crotona.The director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy visited the Bronx yesterday, holding a press conference at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in Crotona to officially launch a new nationwide anti-drug youth campaign. R. Gil Kerlikowske, who serves as the 6th ever “drug czar,” under the Obama administration, was given a tour by Mary Mitchell staff and other community leaders, stopping off at one of the Bronx’s most notorious drug-ridden areas—a neighborhood in Fordham-Bedford Park—as well as a more positive visit to the Garden of Happiness, a community garden on Prospect Avenue and East 181st St.Kerlikowske’s trip was part of a greater, nationwide campaign from his office aimed to keep teenagers away from drugs. Dubbed the “influence project,” its goal is to engage young people in talking about the positive and negative pressures that influence their behavior. The drug czar met with students from the Mary Mitchell Center and the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to talk about what keeps them drug-free. “I heard stories about how important their parents were to them, in guiding them,” Kerlikowske said.