Hillsborough, November 10 – The Alliance Center for Independence (ACI) and the Somerset County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is hosting an emergency shelter overnight simulation for individuals with disabilities on Friday, November 20th starting at 5 p.m. at the Hillsborough Municipal Complex, 379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough. Approximately 50 people with disabilities have volunteered to spend a night at the shelter, which will be staffed by volunteers from a number of Somerset County agencies engaged in emergency response operations during a disaster.
This is the 2nd emergency shelter simulation ACI has hosted. Last year’s simulation, which took place at Rutgers University, proved to be invaluable.
Participating agencies include the Somerset County Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, local social service agencies and other stakeholders. Funding for the simulation is provided by PSEG.
“At PSEG, the safety of our employees and the communities we serve is our top priority,” said Ellen Lambert, president PSEG Foundation. “We are proud to support ACI and Somerset County OEM help emergency managers and volunteers better understand and prepare for the needs of individual with disabilities during disasters.”
The purpose of the exercise is to familiarize members of the disabled community with an overnight shelter experience. At the same time, providing emergency managers and volunteers an opportunity to understand and better assist the needs of individuals with disabilities in a general population shelter during a disaster
We’re pleased to be hosting this emergency simulation here in Somerset County,” said Freeholder Director Mark Caliguire. “In light of the severe-weather events that have impacted our county and New Jersey as a whole in recent years, this scenario is not beyond the realm of possibility, so it’s important to be prepared.”
Shelter volunteers often are not aware of the specific needs many people with disabilities have and how to meet those needs in an emergency sheltering operation. Through this exercise members of the disability community, local jurisdictions and nonprofit emergency responders can exercise their training, knowledge and protocols in a “real world” situation of operating a general population shelter with individuals with various disabilities.
This simulation will help to strengthen emergency shelter operations and expose potential weakness in processes and systems that can be evaluated and improved. “We are grateful that Somerset county and state agencies have joined ACI in addressing the issues of individuals with disabilities during a disaster,” said Carole Tonks, executive director of the Alliance Center for Independence. “We look forward to a great learning experience for people with disabilities and emergency responders.”
The shelter exercise will run from 5 p.m. Friday night, November 20 to 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Round table discussions will be held throughout the evening.
Accessible buses will provide transportation to participants from the ACI office, 629 Amboy Avenue, Edison as well as from the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services at 27 Warren Street in Somerville. Dinner and Breakfast will be provided. Participants will receive a $25.00 gift card as well as Emergency Preparedness GO Bags provided by the NJ Division of Disability Services.
The Alliance Center for Independence (ACI) recognizes disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. ACI is a 501(c) (3) community-based, grassroots organization that supports and promotes independent living for people with disabilities in Middlesex, Union and Somerset counties in New Jersey. ACI provides information and referral services and develops and implements educational programs and innovative activities that promote activism, peer support, health and wellness, employment and independent living skills for people with disabilities and their allies. ACI supports the philosophy of independent living for all persons with disabilities.
Press are invited between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For additional information about the event or about services for the disabled, call the Alliance Center for Independence at (732) 738-4388 or visit their website, www.adacil.org.