It really became personal for me when the USNS Comfort arrived in New York City.
I looked across the river as I was driving in this morning and had a flashback to the morning 18 ½ years ago when I was told that a small plane had crashed into the Trade Center. Our lives all changed at that moment, just as they have now.
I remember having the USNS Comfort come then. However, we didn't need it for what we need it for now. We didn't need it for people who needed hospital care. We needed it for crisis counseling for a lot of fire chiefs and police officers who were really, really overcome with the grief they faced from the death of their friends and people that they worked with. And we needed it to house and feed federal workers who came to support New York City and the Nation. I’ll never forget the feeling, and how perfect the names are, the "Comfort" and "Mercy." I was told their predecessors were here in 1918 for the pandemic we had then.
The federal government has always been here to support the city. The Army, the Navy, the Marines, they've always been here for us when we needed them. And they're here again for us now. I get flashbacks knowing that the city is under such stress now, and once again, it is personal for me. I spent 30 years in the fire department, so when September 11th happened, it was personal. Those lost were colleagues. They were leaders. They were friends. Everyone was affected by September 11th. And that's what's happening now.
Everyone is affected by the coronavirus in one way or another - a friend, a relative, a loved one that you can't go and see because they're in quarantine. I stopped to speak with a 100-year-old lady last week and stood six feet away. And I know everybody has put in this same care and effort.
I know how tough the people of this city are, and I’ve seen us take on some seemingly insurmountable challenges. Once again, we will take on this challenge together, even if its six feet apart. What we're all going through is strange, but it's necessary, and it is going to make a difference. The more we separate, the more everybody stays away, the better off we'll be and the faster we'll get out of this.
After September 11th, it seemed like every day we were fixing stuff, and it was getting slightly better. The grief, of course, was enormous, but the operation seemed to get slightly better every day. With this, we’re not there yet.
Help has arrived and it's going to make a big difference. These visible signs of what our government is bringing to bear to help New York will help us defeat this pandemic. FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are working with the city and state to supply everything we possibly can to expand the medical capacity as quickly as possible. We're working to find solutions and doing all we can to slow the spread and treat those who need help.
Your government will be here for you. I’m really proud to be part of it.
In times of uncertainty, helping others can have a significant impact. To make the most of your contributions, it’s important to follow these guidelines for donating and volunteering responsibly.
Financial contributions to recognized organizations are the fastest, most flexible, and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and frequently purchase through businesses local to the affected area, which supports economic recovery. Critical needs change rapidly, so do not collect or distribute donations of supplies without understanding community needs.
To find a list of trusted organizations supporting COVID-19 response efforts that can put your generous contributions of money, donations, and time to the best possible use, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
If you would like to donate bulk medical supplies or equipment (not individual items or small qualities), please provide us details on what you are offering.
Don’t self-deploy to affected areas. Trusted organizations operating in the affected areas know where volunteers are needed, and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training and housing. Volunteers can offer their services by registering with a National VOAD member. After registering, you will be contacted once resources are matched with unmet needs.
Licensed Healthcare professionals that want to volunteer can get information on eligibility, view credential levels by clinical competency and register with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals in their state. Medical Reserve Corps volunteers can help in different ways in their communities (call centers, drive through clinics, and more) by contacting a unit in their area.
Volunteers are also currently needed to donate blood. Many blood drives have been cancelled, impacting the supply. Blood donation centers have the highest standards of safety and infection control. To find where you can donate blood, visit the American Red Cross.
FEMA continues taking aggressive and proactive steps to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and our federal partners are working with state, local, tribal and territorial governments to execute a whole of government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and two tribes are working directly with FEMA under the nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19. FEMA is working with HHS to deliver additional supplies and ventilators. This includes using its Logistics Supply Chain Management System to procure and track commodities to supplement state and tribal purchases. FEMA also issued a $350 million Mission Assignment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of alternate care facilities in New York.
It is important that requests for assistance, especially for critical supplies, get routed through the proper channels as soon as possible. The most efficient way to identify critical gaps and get results:
- Consistent with the principle of locally executed, state managed, and federally supported response, requests for assistance at the local and county levels should first be routed to their respective state.
- Any needs that cannot be met by the state or tribe should then be sent to the respective FEMA regional office. FEMA regions will direct requests to FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. for fulfillment.
- If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center.
All 10 FEMA regional response coordination centers have been activated to support response efforts. FEMA Regional Administrators are coordinating closely with their state, local, tribal and territorial governments to determine the type and level of support needed which could include the deployment of liaisons and Incident Management Assistance Teams.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19, review the guidance: 15 Days to Slow the Spread. To help the public distinguish between rumors and facts about COVID-19, visit the FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control page.