The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Msgr. John Brown, Walgreens drugstores and the New York Mets have been awarded the 2013 Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience, recognizing their contributions to their communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Msgr. Brown, the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Flatlands, was the pastor of St. Francis de Sales parish, Belle Harbor, when Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Rockaway Peninsula in 2012.
Under Msgr. Brown’s leadership, St. Francis de Sales Elementary School became the largest relief center in the area, providing hot food, medical care, mental health care, trauma counseling, clothing, cleaning supplies, pet food, veterinary care and more. At the height of the effort, it served between 4,000-10,000 people per day.
“The Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience recognizes outstanding response to a catastrophic incident and leadership in fostering resilient and prepared communities,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers. “The devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy impacted millions of families, and today many are still recovering from the storm. But this storm also produced many heroes who rose to the challenge and assisted those in need. The three recipients of this year’s award truly exemplify this spirit of resilience and strength, serving as models for communities across our nation.”
Walgreens drugstores implemented business continuity plans before the storm made landfall, enabling the company to continue providing for basic human needs. In the aftermath of the storm, Walgreens drugstores quickly dispatched mobile pharmacies and constructed temporary pharmacies, continuing to provide much needed services throughout the region. The company also shipped in 25,000 blankets, three semi-trailer loads of water and other items that governmental organizations were lacking.
The New York Mets, working with the City’s Office of Emergency Management, opened their facilities to be used as a Logistics Staging Area for more than three and a half months to receive, stage and distribute unassigned resources prior to or following the storm. The Mets also supported first responders’ daily efforts by providing housing for up to 600 workers a night and distributing over 1,500 meals per day during the peak recovery period following the storm.
In 2011, DHS created the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience in memory of Richard “Rick” Rescorla, who on Sept. 11, 2001 led a massive evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,700-person workforce located in the South Tower, saving the lives of all but six. Following the 1993 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Rescorla regularly drilled his Morgan Stanley employees in disaster preparedness and response, especially evacuation, ensuring that employees knew how to evacuate and where to go on 9/11.