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Dear Citizens of the Commonwealth,
The serious weather events over the last few weeks have left many of us feeling like we want to do something to help. Massachusetts is the proud home of one of the largest groups of Puerto Rican American communities in the country, so in light of Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact this week, I want to share a few helpful links to places where you can provide, if you choose, needed assistance and be assured it will get into the hands that need it most.
A monetary donation to a trusted relief organization is the quickest and most effective way to help. The Red Cross is deeply involved in Puerto Rico’s relief operations and can be visited by going here, http://www.redcross.org
You can help support the recovery & reconstruction of Puerto Rico by directing donations to United for Puerto Rico: http://unitedforpuertorico.com.
Other disaster relief organizations can be found through the website of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD): https://www.nvoad.org/current-disasters/werespond/. The National VOAD asks people not to send or bring unsolicited donated items.
If you are trying to connect with family and friends in Puerto Rico, or know someone who is, I encourage you to use the Red Cross’ “Safe and Well” website to do so: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/. As the recovery continues, Red Cross, FEMA and Puerto Rico emergency management officials will be using that website to register evacuees and displaced persons. Additionally, residents in Massachusetts can talk with the Red Cross’s reunification program by calling 1-800 REDCROSS OR 1-800-733-2767.
It is important for all of us to remember that our neighbors in Texas, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and now Puerto Rico and the Caribbean will need our help and support long after this hurricane season passes.
Our thoughts and prayers go to the people of Puerto Rico, Massachusetts’ Puerto Rican Community, and anyone else affected by this horrible storm.
Events like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the disasters we have experienced here in the Commonwealth over the last decade are reminders of the importance of emergency preparedness and public safety. Preparedness reduces casualties, property damage and the economic impacts of disasters, and helps improve the recovery process for our families and communities.
Please review the resources below from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) so that you and your family can be prepared for the next emergency, be it a hurricane, a winter storm or other disaster.
Governor Charlie Baker
Updated: September 22, 2017
Governor Charlie Baker has proclaimed September 2017 to be Emergency Preparedness Month to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness and planning for individuals, families and communities. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) are promoting public preparedness throughout the month. These efforts are part of a nationwide preparedness campaign to encourage all Americans to take simple steps to better prepare themselves, and their friends and families, for emergencies at home, work and school, and in their communities.
To help individuals and families prepare during Emergency Preparedness Month, MEMA will promote four key preparedness messages: 1) Be Informed, 2) Develop an Emergency Plan, 3) Build an Emergency Kit, and 4) Get Involved in community preparedness and resilience. MEMA will also stress the importance of considering the unique preparedness needs of children, pets, seniors and people with access and functional needs.
Receiving advance warnings for severe weather, timely emergency alerts and information during a disaster is critical to staying safe during an emergency. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts, including at least one with an audible alert to wake you in the middle of the night. Monitor media reports and follow instructions from public safety officials with these tools:
Massachusetts Alerts app — Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app for your iOS or Android device. The app provides tropical storm and hurricane warnings, as well as important public safety alerts and information from MEMA.
Social media — Follow MEMA on Twitter (@MassEMA) and Facebook for emergency updates during hurricanes.
Mass 2-1-1 — Mass 2-1-1 is the state non-emergency call center for disasters. Call 2-1-1 to find out about shelter locations, travel restrictions, disaster assistance programs, and more. Mass 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.
Local emergency notification systems — Check with your local emergency management director to see if your community uses an emergency notification system and learn how to sign up.
MEMA has additional information on staying informed.
Having an emergency supply kit is an essential component of personal and family preparedness emergency kits should include essentials items that will help sustain you and your family for up to three days in the event you are isolated in your home without power during disaster. Make sure your kit includes:
A radio and extra batteries
A first-aid kit and sanitation items
Important documents and records
A charged cell phone
Depending on the needs of your family, you may need to add:
Medication and medical supplies
Pet food and pet items
Use this printer-friendly emergency kit checklist for more ideas.
When an emergency or disaster occurs, will you be ready? It is critical that you create a family disaster plan to keep you and your family safe, protect your property and build your community’s resilience.
Communications plan — Create a family communications plan so you can stay in touch and find each other in an emergency.
Identify safe meeting places both in and away from your neighborhood.
Give each family member a list of important phone numbers.
Designate one out-of-state friend or relative as the point person for everyone to call and check in with.
If telephone service is disrupted, try texting or using social media to communicate with family and friends, and to let others know you’re safe.
Evacuation plan — Create a family evacuation plan that details:
Where you will go
How you will get there (methods and routes)
What you will bring
What you will do with your pets
Shelter-in-place plan — Make sure your family has a plan to shelter in place, which includes storing items you’ll need to stay comfortable while you are at home. Be prepared to shelter in place for at least 72 hours. See the next section to learn how to build an emergency kit.
Make sure your emergency plans are tailored to all of your family members and their needs, including seniors, children, individuals with medical needs and people with disabilities.
Develop a plan with the members of your household to prepare for what to do, how to find each other and how to communicate in an emergency. Be sure your plan addresses the special and/or medical needs for you and your family.
Build a more resilient community by getting involved and helping your community prepare for, respond to and recover from the next disaster. There are many great opportunities to make important contributions including volunteering, donating, helping your neighbors, and being an active bystander.
Join one of the 100 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs in Massachusetts. Search CERT programs by zip code to find one near you.
Join a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program in Massachusetts.
Join a Citizen Corps Partner Program.
Get involved with the American Red Cross.
Check with your local public safety officials to see if there are local opportunities to volunteer to support emergency response.
Donate cash to a recognized disaster relief organization.
Donate goods that are specifically requested or needed by recognized organizations.
Learn more about how to donate responsibly: Donations and Volunteers
Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.
Start a community preparedness project with the Corporation for National & Community Service toolkit.
If you See Something, Say Something! Call 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity.
Report emergency situations and request assistance by calling 9-1-1.
Learn CPR and basic first aid. Learn how to apply a tourniquet and Stop the Bleed. Provide first aid assistance within your abilities.
If appropriate and safe to do so, assist victims at the scene of an emergency. Learn what to do until help arrives at an emergency: Until Help Arrives.
Help arriving first responders by sharing information you know about the incident, victims, or facility. Ask how you may help. Follow the instructions of officials.