NYSUT locals discuss disaster prep/response

One month after historic flooding devastated 30 counties, local unions tweeted about preparing and handling a crisis or disaster.

A number of Tweeps (the term for those who tweet) asked for more information about how best to be prepared to handle emergency situations. Here’s the beginning of a list.

Where do folks turn for guidance during rebuilding? In addition to the links above, the State Education Department has developed this Q & A to deal with Extreme Weather Events.

It was widely recognized that local unions should consider developing preparedness plans. For this, here’s some guidance from the Schoharie TA, where flooding meant electric power was gone for days for some and weeks for many. Here’s what they learned was important:

  • Get a list of members’ cellphone numbers. Landlines don’t work when there is no power. Unions should have their own phone tree, independent of the employer. If a call can’t get through, try texting.
  • Reach every member. If you can not speak to all members, go door-to-door to their homes once roads are passable. Be prepared to leave a note if no one is there. The key is to find out what members need first hand. Communication breaks down in an emergency. Don’t rely on second-hand information.
  • Consider other forms of communication. Think about Twitter and Facebook to get information out. NYSUT’s blog was used as a way to ask questions and get answers.
  • Listen. Find out what people need immediately and for the long-term. Listen as much as possible before you start to problem solve or develop reaction plans.
  • If you do develop a solution to a problem, such as deciding your local union can help rebuild your town by paying for insulation and providing a workforce to install it, then make sure to get your story out.  “The disaster will fade from people’s minds quicker than you think, so you have to use the sympathy while it’s there,” said Martin Messner of the Schoharie TA.

To give people an idea of the impact, here’s the link to one video that is up on YouTube.

There were a lot of ideas kicked around during our Tweet-up. Members should check with their local president to see what actions the local is considering. NYSUT will help publicize efforts. Keep watching for updates!

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