In order to ready its residents in the event of an emergency, such as last December’s ice storm that knocked out power lines around the region, Bethlehem has created a volunteer group to help one another in times of need.
The town will be hosting an Are you Ready? public meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Town Hall, 445, Delaware Ave., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Director of the Bethlehem Emergency Management Office John Brennan will be speaking at the event.
As part of National Preparedness Month in September, the purpose of the meeting will be to `help our residents understand what it truly means to be ready. Ideas include getting an emergency supply kit; making a family emergency plan; and being informed about emergencies and their appropriate responses,` according to the town’s Web site.
The meeting will be used to solicit members for the town’s new Corps of Volunteers group, which is a group of residents that can be contacted and will help residents in their area and around town during an emergency or disaster.
Supervisor Jack Cunningham said he created the group after the power failures in December.
`When we opened up Town Hall for people, we found out there was a void in terms of volunteers,` he said. `We decided to create this in order to recruit people to help when they are needed most.`
Cunningham said Brennan will go over basic emergency preparation, what to expect and what residents can do to help in certain situations.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate released a Web video message highlighting the need for the public to be prepared for any emergency.
`Our entire emergency management team has a role to play when it comes to preparing for and responding to the next disaster,` Fugate said in statement.
`One of the most important parts of that team is the public. The more prepared the public is now, by getting an emergency response kit, making an emergency action plan, and getting a skill, like CPR, the stronger our emergency response team will be.`
The Web video message can be found at: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=49226.
An anonymous e-mail was forwarded to The Spotlight after power was lost in the Selkirk area due to extreme thunderstorms on Friday, Aug. 21 citing concerns about seniors in the area. The e-mail was sent to Cunningham about the matter asking why more people were not being checked on.
Cunningham replied to the message the next day stating he understand the concerns and asked for the person’s help.
`The Town of Bethlehem maintains a list of residents who have identified themselves to us as ‘at risk.’ When we experience emergencies such as power outages, we contact those individuals who are on our list to ensure their safety,` he wrote.
`We are also working with other communities and Albany County to establish a Citizens Corp of residents who will make themselves available to assist during an emergency.`
There is no charge to attend the Tuesday, Sept. 22, event and refreshments will be served by the town. For more information contact our the town’s Emergency Management Office, 439-4955, ext. 1166. “