Relief orgs ready if needed


Several New York-area relief organizations were staffed and ready in preparation for Thursday night’s snowstorm, but as of Friday afternoon haven’t been needed much.

The American Red Cross has had volunteers on alert since last night and, at the request of the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, opened and operated two of the county’s three shelters last night into this morning. The shelters have since closed, according to Communication Director Michael de Vulpillieres, because of low turnout.

“Our volunteers are still ready,” de Vulpillieres said. “We have an active operations center that’s being staffed in the event of something major happening.” The operations center is based in New York City, but there are also volunteers stationed in Mineola.

Island Harvest, Long Island's largest hunger relief organization, has been in touch with the Office of Emergency Management in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, said Donald Miller, executive vice president of public relations. Island Harvest is ready to supply emergency food services if necessary, he added.

“We have sufficient product on hand and have a plan in place to respond to our member agencies, if needed,” Miller said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency chapter based in New York and New Jersey has kept in touch with state officials and is ready to help if asked, said Don Caepano, a FEMA spokesman. “Other than keeping us informed of road closures and things like that they haven’t really asked for any further assistance,” he said.

“We’re there to help the state if there’s anything they can’t do or that’s outside of their capacity to do,” he added, “but right now that hasn’t happened.”

The Red Cross has responded to house fires in New York and New Jersey since the storm, de Vulpillieres added. To avoid house fires, the Red Cross suggests several precautions:

- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.

- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away fro m space heaters.

-Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.