Brooklyn Recovery Fund-backed Coalition Makes Sure Red Hook is Prepared for the Next Disaster

Almost two years after Hurricane Sandy submerged the neighborhood and left residents stranded without heat or electricity, the community is not taking any chances on the next deadly disaster.

A coalition of seven nonprofit organizations has been working on a plan to make sure “that Red Hook is better prepared for the next disaster” and residents are aware of resources immediately available to them.

Red Hook’s disaster preparedness plan focuses on the first 72 hours after a storm or calamity shuts down the community, particularly before city, state and federal agencies arrive at impacted zones, said Sapna Advani, a coordinator of the Red Hook Coalition.

“It’s unreasonable to expect FEMA and OEM to get there before 72 hours,” she said. “However, needs arise much before 72 hours.”

On Saturday, the coalition will be practicing the community disaster readiness plan, giving residents a chance to visit each center, receive giveaways and learn more about what to do and where to go during a disaster.

The event, called “Ready Red Hook Day,” will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 13. People can visit the four well-known community centers in any order or make use of a shuttle bus service that will be traveling between them:

► Visitation Church, located at 98 Richards St., which will focus food and shelter needs

► Red Hook Initiative, located at 767 Hicks St., for communication resources

► The Miccio Center, located at 110 West Ninth St. for health and medical response as well as teams for basic search and rescue operations

► Ikea Brooklyn, located at 1 Beard St. for support in restoring utilities like electricity, water, gas, heating and telephone services and coordination of response activities

A free after party will begin at noon till 2 p.m. at PS 15, located at 71 Sullivan St. with a barbecue, raffle and DJ, organizers said.

Red Hook is the first New York City neighborhood to complete its own community recovery and readiness plan for a disaster, said Noel Kepler, managing partner of Emergency Management Methodology Partners, a consulting group for crisis and emergency management.

The plan is strongly linked to the immediate action taken soon after Hurricane Sandy hit the waterfront neighborhood in 2012. Places like Visitation Church and the Miccio Center became safe havens for residents searching for support and resources.

But responders also learned valuable lessons from the super storm.

“Last time [during Sandy], it took almost a week for any resources to get into Red Hook,” Kepler said.

While the project was created by the Red Hook Coalition, with support from the American Red Cross, Brooklyn Community Foundation and NYC Housing and Neighborhood Recovery Donor Collaborative, residents and community members will eventually take over the entire plan.

“We wanted the process to be completely community driven,” Advani said.

“The community is self-reliant and independent.”