Written By: Christine Garcia
Dr. Williams is the founder and CEO of the non-profit Regional Ready Rockaway in Queens, New York. He first began his work over 25 years ago in Rockaway, Queens as a way to develop a sense of emergency preparedness within the community, especially after experiencing natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At the time of the disaster, Dr. Williams was working for the United States Congressman Gregory Meeks. Meeks worked as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Within the Caucus they had agreed to transfer some evacuees that had suffered tremendously as a result of the hurricane, to their congressional districts as a way to provide them with the resources and services that they needed in order to help them recover. In total, they were able to transfer 250 families from the 9th ward out of New Orleans.
Dr. Williams ultimately envisions the 9th ward to be synonymous with the Rockaway Peninsula in Southeastern Queens “in terms of the geography, in terms of its characteristics, and in terms of the population.” While analyzing these similarities, Dr. Williams also began to realize that Southeastern Queens could soon begin to experience the same natural disasters as New Orleans given that it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. This is when he began to feel as though to prepare the community for such things. This is when he began Regional Ready Rockaway which consisted of a group of emergency preparedness experts.
After starting this non-profit, Dr. Williams worked to not only inform the community, but to also “bring in the agency’s first responding organizations who would be responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the community.” In 2011 once Hurricane Irene struck, Regional Ready Rockaway was able to monitor weather related activities through their partnership with NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This allowed them to be as well equipped as possible to face the natural disaster.
The work that Dr. Williams has done and continues to do, ultimately aligns with their mission and vision. While the mission of Regional Ready Rockaway has been to equip the Rockaway community with the emergency preparedness they need, their vision has shifted as they have become more and more successful. With the more traction they gain, Regional Ready Rockaway hopes to expand as much as they can to other neighborhoods and communities so that they too, may be prepared for any emergency to come their way.
As far as reaching this goal, Regional Ready Rockaway is willing to accept donations of the equipment they need such as computers and communication systems in order for them to monitor on a larger scale in terms of challenges that come with weather-related incidents within the community.
Overall, there is no other organization of Regional Ready Rockaway’s kind. This non-profit is truly one and only not only because of the work they do, but also the way in which they provide for their community in various different ways. Of their most recent successes they have been elected by FEMA and the Rockaway community during the Hurricane Sandy natural disaster to provide long-term recovery operations. This meant working alongside 74 non-governmental organizations in order to provide relief efforts to those in need. This kind of work is what sets them aside and makes this non-profit truly unique in what they do.
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