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September 26 2013

Westchester County Executive Astorino Encourages Disaster Planning with Operation HOPE

 

HOPE Coalition America bringing financial recovery and readiness to Westchester County New York

Westchester, NY -- September 23, 2013 -- Emergencies often strike when we least expect them. Are you prepared? What about your business?

In light of September being "National Preparedness Month," County Executive Robert P. Astorino encouraged individuals and business owners to take advantage of a new disaster planning and recovery resource available through Operation HOPE, a global nonprofit agency that recently set up shop in Westchester County.

"Operation HOPE has the same goals we do – to make communities stronger and to make residents self-reliant," said Astorino. "We've learned many lessons from Hurricane Sandy, and one is that disaster planning is critical for individuals, businesses and communities to rebound quickly."

Operation HOPE comes at no cost to county taxpayers or to the people who use its services, he added.
Representatives from Operation HOPE; the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Community Capital New York, a program sponsor; and Westchester County recently came together celebrate the launch of the new partnership and discuss best practices, including:

Five Tips to Prepare for an Emergency
1. Complete all sections of the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), available online: http://www.operationhope.org/emergency-kit
2. Review all the supporting documentation for accuracy and be sure the document is still in effect.
3. Make a copy of your completed EFFAK.
4. Keep your EFFAK in a safe place.
5. Update your kit whenever your documents change.

Operation HOPE will work from two locations: The Westchester-Putnam One-Stop Employment Center's main office, 120 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains; and the Department of Social Services Mount Vernon District Office, 100 E. First St., Mount Vernon.

"We are very pleased to be a part of this strategic alliance to increase preparedness across Westchester County," said Darryl J. Madden, Director of FEMA's Ready Campaign on Emergency Preparedness. "It is an example to be followed on how government, non-profits and communities can work in unison to bring positive change to increase resiliency in the face of all hazards."

Operation HOPE's Disaster Financial Recovery and Preparedness division specifically goes by the name HOPE Coalition America (HCA). At HCA offices, trained financial professionals provide financial literacy classes and one-on-one counseling for organizing personal information, establishing a budget, reviewing insurance coverage, disaster recovery budgeting, cash flow management, accounting services, tax assistance, financial statements and projections, banking relationships, loan applications and financial guidance for individuals and small businesses. Clients are also given assistance on how to secure a loan.

To date, HCA has assisted more than 300,000 individuals and small businesses with financial preparedness, disaster recovery and "financial triage" – assessing financial need, identifying the most pressing problems and providing assistance when possible. Since its formation in 2001, the result of a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, HCA has responded to 35 disasters.

"Operation HOPE is pleased to partner with the County of Westchester and to help provide financial preparedness and recovery guidance services to the survivors of Superstorm Sandy," said Fred Smith, President of HOPE Coalition America, for Operation HOPE. "While we can't stop disasters from striking, we can take actions that will expedite recovery and help us better prepare for future emergencies or disasters. As we look forward to the future, HOPE will continue to help the individuals and small businesses in Westchester to recover and assist them in preparing for the next man made or natural disaster."

Holly Perlowitz, Business Development Manager at Community Capital New York, said that as a not-for-profit small business lender, CCNY is delighted to partner with Operation HOPE.

"Recent events have demonstrated that disaster can strike at any time," said Perlowitz. "It is part of Community Capital's mission to provide loans to help businesses get back on their feet after such an event, but it is even better if local business owners, by working on their emergency preparedness with Operation HOPE, never need the kind of financing we provide for those small businesses that are unable to secure loans through traditional lenders."

For more information, visit www.operationhope.org. You may also contact Lisa Swanson of DSS's emergency operations at (914) 995-5420 or by email at lqs5@westchestergov.com; or Lawrence Blaber, Jr., of Operation Hope at (929) 400-3129 or by email at lawrence.blaber@operationhope.org.

Pictured: Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, center, encourages individuals and business owners to take advantage of a new disaster planning and recovery resource available through Operation HOPE, a global nonprofit agency that recently set up shop in Westchester County at no cost to the county taxpayer. He is joined, left to right, by Kevin M. McGuire, Westchester Commissioner of Social Services; Louis E. Prezeau, Small Business Program Manager – Operation Hope/HOPE Coalition America; Rosa Boone, Deputy Commissioner of Social Services; County Executive Astorino; Darryl Madden, Director, FEMA Ready.Gov; Holly Perlowitz, Business Development Manager, Community Capital New York; and Donnovan Beckford, Director Westchester-Putnam Workforce Investment Board.