Emergency planning begins at the community level. By preparing a contingency plan before a disaster strikes, community organizations and other community groups can leverage their networks to better position their members and communities to respond and recover from any situation. emergency.


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On March 9, 2022, NYC Emergency Management’s Office of Community Engagement held its 10th Annual Symposium on Community Preparedness: Cultivating Community Connections for Emergencies.

The 10th annual symposium focused on how community organizers, leaders, youth, advocates and/or government can better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

The 2022 symposium had 440 participants. New York City Commissioner of Emergency Management Zach Iscol, First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell and Deputy Commissioner of Community Engagement Herman Schaffer delivered remarks on the importance of building a network of resources and community connections for emergencies.

You can watch the 2022 symposium here.

“Our Community Engagement Office has worked tirelessly to cultivate relationships in every borough to help all New Yorkers prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Connecting with groups and organizations communities are an essential part of emergency preparedness, as they strengthen communities through their network of resources, whether it is a power outage, winter storm, flood or of a fire,” said New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. “We look forward to adding more community groups to our roster and building a stronger New York City and more resilient.”

Under this year’s theme, Cultivating Community Connections for Emergencies, participants shared valuable insights on how to network for resources and connections. Sonal Jessel, Policy Director at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, was the keynote speaker for the symposium.



WE ACT is a non-profit group based in West Harlem whose mission is to ensure that people of color and/or low-income residents participate in and build healthy communities through protection, policies and safe and fair environmental health practices. Jessel spoke about the importance of planning and preparation to mitigate the inequitable impacts of climate change.

As climate change continues to create more and more extreme weather events, emergency management agencies and community organizations are tackling five key factors that make communities of color more vulnerable: income, level of education, age, race and ethnicity.

“Communities of color and low income face a disproportionately greater threat from the climate crisis, including significantly higher death rates from extreme heat, the deadliest impact of climate change, but these communities often have the fewest resources available to prepare for and mitigate these impacts,” said Sonal Jessel, policy director at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “That’s why it’s critical for frontline communities to organize, plan and prepare for climate disasters, and work together to advocate for solutions to end this crisis.”

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In addition to Jessel, symposium attendees and attendees listened to guest speakers discuss the importance of providing resources in multiple languages, how nonprofits can meet community needs in the event of an emergency. emergency, growth as a community-based organization active in disasters (COAD) and an introduction to mutual aid networks.

Guest speakers included Joseph Yun, Korean Community Services of Greater New York, and is currently a John D. Solomon Fellow with NYC Emergency Management; Andy Aujla and Lina Lee of Communities Resist Inc. (CoRe); Frank Blancero, Staten Island Not for Profit Association and Staten Island Community Organization Active in Disaster (COAD); and Ariadna Phillips, of the South Bronx Mutual Aid Network.

“Research and experience have shown that meaningful partnerships between emergency management officials and local community members, non-profit organizations and faith-based institutions are critical to their community’s resilience,” said said NYC Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner Herman Schaffer. “We are delighted to share this annual symposium as a key part of our strong programming. We encourage all community leaders to connect with our knowledgeable team to help your community better prepare.

Community Preparedness Planning Toolkit

The New York City Emergency Management Community Preparedness Planning Toolkit is an interactive booklet suitable for all communities and can be used by congregations, housing estates, tenant or civic associations, community councils or coalitions, community organizations or Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) .

From emergencies such as hurricanes and heat waves to fires and utility disruptions, the toolkit reviews the various threats and hazards New Yorkers may face and provides an overview of key response roles that communities can play to mitigate risk.

For more information, visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/em/ready/community-preparedness.page.