A gas explosion that caused two East Harlem buildings to collapse on March 12, killing 8 people, tested the community’s capacity for emergency preparedness and response. This tragedy prompted a renewed focus on East Harlem in local media, and here at JustPublics@365 given our ties to this community.
In addition, given the CUNY campus in East Harlem, and that one of those killed was a member of the CUNY community – Sgt. Griselde Camacho – there are some ongoing efforts at CUNY to work with community-based groups in response to this disaster.
Although East Harlem has a rich, extensive network of community-based groups and organizations, a month after the disaster it is still unclear how well these services were utilized.
According to the East Harlem Emergency Preparedness Collaborative (EHEPC), despite major investments by the federal government to increase the ability of U.S. cities, communities, and neighborhoods to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies and disasters, research has shown there has been limited participation by those in vulnerable and minority communities.
On Saturday, April 26, 2014 JustPublics@365 co-sponsored a forum at the Silberman Campus of CUNY in East Harlem (2180 Third Avenue) about these issues. Community members and all those affected by the blast were invited to attend and share their concerns, listen to others and learn.