Red Cross, FEMA and Verizon Stress the Importance of Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Communications

To mark the end of National Preparedness Month, representatives from the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Verizon gathered on Thursday (Sept. 27) to stress the importance of disaster preparedness and to highlight the tips and technological tools available to help people prepare for emergencies or disasters.

"Disasters can strike quickly and without warning, so it's vital to always be prepared," said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region, at a news conference at the organization's office in Fairfield. "If you haven't done so already, now is the time to assess local disaster risks and make or update your family disaster plan." 

Invoking the memories of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and a rare October snow storm, the American Red Cross discussed the services and aid it offers residents and businesses across New Jersey and how the Red Cross has embraced technology to put lifesaving information directly in people's hands, with the mobile phone apps it has developed for hurricanes, earthquakes and first aid.

These Red Cross tools make it easier for people to make or update plans. The American Red Cross Apps for iPhone or Android smartphones help people create a plan and share it with household members and over social networks. In addition, a template and instructions to build a plan are available at redcross.org/npm.

"Preparedness is important to all stakeholders and members of our national emergency management team; this concern goes all the way to the highest level of our government," said David Musick, director, National Preparedness Division, FEMA Region II.  "FEMA is currently implementing a Presidential Policy Directive concerning national preparedness. This initiative will involve setting a national goal and developing a national system of preparedness.  As with any long journey, this national goal will start with a single step - individual preparedness."

FEMA issued a news release earlier this month emphasizing the core message of National Preparedness Month -- to be prepared in the event an emergency that causes anyone to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or maybe even without response from police, fire or rescue workers.

Preparation starts with four important steps:

  • Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community and identify local sources of information that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency.
  • Make a plan for what to do in an emergency.
  • Build an emergency supply kit.
  • Get involved.

Working with FEMA, Verizon conducted a month-long education campaign, using social media properties including Twitter and Facebook, to share the National Preparedness Month Toolkit 2.0 - a digital communications toolkit for personal emergency communications planning. Earlier this month Verizon also shared a list of tips for consumers and small businesses to be prepared.

"Just like the American Red Cross and FEMA, Verizon is always prepared to do whatever it takes to provide relief," said Paul Sullivan, region president for Verizon New Jersey.  "At Verizon we do our best to ensure that our customers stay connected during bad weather, whether is it setting up mobile phone banks in areas experiencing phone outages or having repair crews work round-the-clock to restore service for customers impacted by severe weather."

Click here for a short video from Verizon offering key tips to be ready and prepared in the event of an emergency.

To see related news releases on Verizon's all-hazards approach to emergency management, click here; for business continuity tips for enterprises and government, click here.

Also at the news conference, the America Red Cross North Jersey Region recognized Verizon and its employees for their many years of generous support to Red Cross disaster relief efforts across the country and around the world. Most recently, donations by Verizon employees, together with the Verizon Foundation's match, have helped substantially with Red Cross relief efforts to those affected by severe spring storms, wildfires and hurricanes in the United States.   

Verizon's philanthropic entity, the Verizon Foundation, matches employees' donations to designated relief agencies dollar for dollar up to $1,000 per employee per year. 

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 419 local disasters, helping 929 families displaced by home fires; collected more than 20,000 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; helped 884 military families send emergency messages, receive financial assistance, and get counseling and referrals; and trained 143,344 individuals with life-saving skills in CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 94 million retail customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 188,000.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.