Long Island has experienced its fair share of disasters – the Pine Barrens blaze, the Blizzard of ’96, Hurricane Irene and most notable, Superstorm Sandy. Living in a complex region that can experience a range of severe weather patterns from heat waves to snow storms presents a unique set of questions; most importantly, are Long Island families prepared?
While the utility and other organizations have invested millions of dollars to improve the infrastructure of the area, the unfortunate truth is that 3,000 families are still recovering from the tragic aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. This reality forces us to understand the power of disasters, and know that preparedness doesn’t stop when the storm begins.
As a result, United Way, 2-1-1 Long Island and PSEG Long Island have joined forces to create BeReadyLI, an all-encompassing, mobile friendly website to ensure Long Islanders have access to the best possible resources anywhere, any time. By working with experts in the field, including American Red Cross on Long Island, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and Island Harvest, the site compiles the most relevant and crucial information for residents to prepare for whatever Mother Nature brings our way.
The website also provides direct and easy access to PSEG Long Island’s storm center, an important resource for customers looking to report a power outage, view outages in their area with the real-time outage map, and stay informed before, during and after a storm—a central piece to effective communication in the event of a disaster.
The timing couldn’t be better. September 1 marks the beginning of National Preparedness Month, a time to remind us that disasters happen and taking action ahead of time is crucial. While there are thousands of people across the island ready to help at a moment’s notice, the best way to keep you and your family safe is to have a plan.
From children to seniors to those with special needs, and even pets, BeReadyLI.org is a comprehensive resource that does (most of) the work for you. With just a few clicks, you can access:
- Emergency supply checklists for children, pets and other family members,
- A database of recovery programs and support services
- Critical phone numbers and websites
- Up-to-the-minute weather tracking and outage maps
- Educational videos for children from Sesame Street
- Information specifically geared toward those with special needs
All of this, and more, is aimed at helping our fellow Long Islanders take the first step in planning for the unexpected. But ultimately, every disaster is different—a reality we understand and accept. With that in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all in staying safe. However, a few simple yet effective actions can make a tremendous difference in what happens during, and after disaster strikes.
While no one knows what the next disaster will be, it’s important to take the BeReadyLI pledge today in order to be as prepared as possible. Stay informed, assemble your go-bag, gather your medical records and talk to your entire family – young children, parents, and grandparents included, about creating a family disaster plan.
Long Island is no stranger to disasters and severe weather. Each one provided us with the opportunity to rebuild a strong and supportive community. BeReadyLI won’t stop the next storm. What it will do is arm us all with the tools necessary to remain a strong and supportive community.
Theresa A. Regnante is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Long Island. Since Regnante took the helm of the non-profit in 2009, she has focused its mission to improve the education, income and health–the building blocks for a good quality life–across the island.