Whether preparing for a major storm or dealing with the shock of a terrorist attack, New Yorkers count on the immediate assistance of the city’s renowned first responders – and the NYC Emergency Management Agency.
As part of the city’s team of dedicated first responders, NYC Emergency Management staff and volunteers not only work at disaster sites, but also serve residents and visitors year-round, true to the agency’s creed of “prepare, respond and recover,” says caribbean rooted in Sonja Orgias, who has been the agency’s deputy chief legal officer since last November.
“This is a high-performance environment,” Orgias said proudly of the agency, which is “responsible for coordinating citywide emergency planning and response for all types and magnitudes of emergencies.”
Orgias previously served as the department’s Director/Emergency Operations Manager, overseeing the Emergency Operations Center during crises and fulfilling other duties. Her new position is primarily legal in nature – an important and necessary part given the huge role emergency management plays in the city before, during and after riots.
“I know my work has a direct impact on what’s happening in this field,” she said. The first-generation American, who was born in Brooklyn to a mother and father from Grenada and Haiti, respectively, “leads three departments responsible for providing legal advice, records management, and civil and disability rights legal advice related to emergencies .”
“My legal role is to speak to him [city’s] Legal Department on what we will do in emergencies, what are the things we need to think about on behalf of the City of New York and our agencies in terms of liability and perspective, and how we are keeping the public safe. she explained.
For example, the coronavirus pandemic has been a busy time for Orgias and the relatively small agency of more than 200 staff, which has sourced personal protective equipment, secured hotel contracts and site agreements.
In addition to providing disaster relief on the ground, the agency’s arsenal of support includes:
* Instructions for assembling “Go Bags” containing bottled water, non-perishable groceries, medicines, phone chargers and copies of important documents in a waterproof case are items to have on hand in the event of an emergency.
* More than a million people subscribe to Notify NYC, a free app for city alerts — from road closures to inclement weather and missing people. It is available in 13 languages!
* Community Emergency Response Team volunteers trained in basic emergency procedures – including fire safety, light search and rescue, community disaster relief and medical disaster response.
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*Emergency management information is available through the agency’s “Prep Talk” podcasts.
Orgias said the availability of the Notify NYC app in 13 languages is an example of the agency keeping up with the city’s diverse ethnic communities and highlighted positive action by new commissioner Zachary Iscol.
“He really wants us to reflect the communities we serve, and I think we have a very intentional focus,” said Orgias, who now serves on NYC Emergency Management’s decision-making bodies and co-chairs the first Initiative for Justice and diversity is advice.
For information about the agency and its programs, visit NYC Emergency Management online and on social media.
As Guyana celebrates its 56th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom, the Guyana Consulate in New York will mark the occasion with a complimentary reception at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center at 153-01 Jamaica Ave. celebrate in Queens on May 25 from 6 p.m
For information, call the consulate at (212) 947-5110.
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