Emergency responders are dedicated to doing work they don’t want people to know about, as one participant remarked during the recent East Harlem community conversation, held last Saturday at the CUNY School of Public Health.
This community conversation about the recent East Harlem explosion and building collapse brought together residents, community groups and scholars to discuss the emergency response to the event, and how the community could be better prepared to respond to future disasters.
Participants met in lively groups to discuss the response following the explosion as well as brainstorm strategies for developing and supporting community preparedness. They identified the need to develop quick and reliable communication channels, including social media (we especially like that one), and to be able to coordinate a local response rather than relying solely on the city’s emergency response system.
As Héctor Cordero-Guzmán, an East Harlem resident and professor at Baruch College School of Public Affairs, said during the wrap-up, “East Harlem prides itself on being a community that knocks on each others’ door and checks in.” It is clear from the passion participants showed for their community and supporting their neighbors that there is strong potential for carrying this work forward.
JustPublics@365 was there to collect stories of the people who were affected by the explosion. East Harlem resident Louise Burwell sat down with us to talk about her reactions to the disaster, public perception of East Harlem, and the community’s commitment to their neighborhood.
The event was co-sponsored by the CUNY School of Public Health, the Silberman School of Social Work, the East Harlem Emergency Preparedness Collective, New York City OEM Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Community Board Eleven of Manhattan, the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, and JustPublics@365.