Whenever a disaster strikes, emergency preparedness plans are essential to the recovery of a community. In October 2012, New Jersey preparedness plans were tested as Hurricane Sandy hit the coast. The super storm forced people from their homes and many people remain homeless due to the damage. Recovery plans continue to be in effect months later, and according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd, the community has taken huge steps in the recovery effort. O'Dowd spoke exclusively with MDTV to explain current emergency recovery efforts and the steps being taken to provide aid toNew Jersey communities effected by Hurricane Sandy.
During a Community Corner piece shown on one of MDTV's public health episodes, O'Dowd explained that the key to community recovery after an emergency is to combine the efforts of medical and public health partners in order to achieve better functioning preparedness plans. As O'Dowd states, "We put a lot of time and resources towards planning for these types of events so that when they do occur, we are well prepared and know how to work together in an effective way to meet the needs of our community." Recovery operations could not have occurred as smoothly as they did without the comradery of community partners.
When speaking on MDTV, the Health Commissioner stated that one of the main goals of the New Jersey Department of Health has been protecting and warning people of potential health threats that can arise after an event, such as Hurricane Sandy. These threats include flooding or unsafe drinking water. In the case of unsafe drinking water, O'Dowd has explained to the public that they should drink only from bottled water and beware of tap water. As well as informing the public of potential threats, the department has made education programs available to the community so they are more aware and better prepared for rebuilding.
Recovery is a long process, but with proper planning and combined efforts, communities can be reestablished quickly. O'Dowd informed MDTV that "Many of our communities are already virtually free of the signs of the storm and have taken major strides to rebuild their homes, their boardwalks, or their communities." The Health Commissioner agrees that parts of New Jersey are still not the same as they were before Hurricane Sandy. However, with continuous hard work these areas will shortly be fully functioning.