The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.
To learn more about the CERT program, locate one in your community, or start one, visit www.citizencorps.gov/cert.
CERT in Action!
New Jersey CERTs Help Area Cope with Flooding
Several CERTs sprang into action to help communities in northern New Jersey deal with serious flooding that occurred in March 2011. The flooding that resulted in a state of emergency caused severe damage to hundreds of homes and closures of area schools, roads and shopping centers.
"Spring flooding of nearby rivers is an annual problem, so CERT members began work before the flooding even began," said Little Falls CERT Coordinator, Detective Fred Batelli. Teams went house to house into flood-prone areas of the community to hand out flyers that described what to do in case of a flood.
Once the flooding began, the Little Falls CERT was formally activated to set up an evacuation shelter at a local civic center and to prepare food for flood victims and first responders. This 20-person team contributed more than 500 hours of time staffing the shelter around the clock for a week.
Members of the Little Falls CERT had completed special shelter manager training from the Red Cross and food-handling training from the Salvation Army. The Red Cross training allows the Little Falls CERT to establish approved emergency shelters without Red Cross personnel, while the Salvation Army training allows the group to safely handle and prepare food in an emergency shelter context. All food and shelter materials were provided by the Red Cross.
Although the Red Cross and Salvation Army training was originally offered as optional in-service training for CERT members, it has proven more valuable with each spring flooding episode. "Every year we do this, and it is gets better every year," said Batelli.
Additional CERTs in northern New Jersey provided traffic control support for local police departments on flooded roads.For more information on the Little Falls CERT program, contact Detective Batelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remodelers & Homeowners Weigh in on New EPA Regulations
A nationwide survey of remodeling contractors by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) reveals a significant increase in the cost of a remodeling project due to current federal regulation. Regulation that, according to survey results, is unwelcome to homeowners who do not have small children living in their home. And regulation that is certain to negatively impact scores of small remodeling businesses.
Many contractors and home-owners indicated in the recent surveys that the additional cost of EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule as it currently stands deters homeowners' use of lead-safe certified contractors. And yet, EPA is poised to add more layers to the existing regulation, which is only a year old.
The new regulation will add "lead clearance testing" to renovations in homes built prior to 1978. The testing will add even more costs to a project for homeowners, already resentful of the regulations and extra costs they carry.
NARI agrees that children and pregnant women must be protected from the dangers of lead poisoning. However, this latest information points to an alarming trend that 1) could cause more harm to vulnerable populations of children and pregnant women and 2) severely impede the economic recovery of small businesses in the remodeling sector.
In an already delicate economy with consumer confidence and the U.S. economy in flux, homeowners may approach the scenario in several different ways, in order to save money:
- Hire a non-compliant, less-skilled handyman or contractor to do the project
- Do parts or all of the project themselves (turn DIY)
- Reject doing the project altogether
Two of the three scenarios above would put children and pregnant women at risk for lead poisoning, and all three put the industry itself at risk because the rising cost of hiring lead-certified remodelers is too high for homeowners. The consequence of any of these scenarios would be another downturn for an industry of predominantly small businesses still recovering from the last recession.
To learn more, visit www.nariremodelers.com.