December 4, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Elizabeth, New Jersey – December 2, 2013 - A year after Superstorm Sandy pummeled New Jersey, Community Access Unlimited (CAU) has become one of, if not the first, social service agency to install permanent and provide transportable generators to a majority of their housing locations.
Sidney Blanchard, CAU’s executive director, had the opportunity to discuss this year long process with three radio stations across the state. WGLS-FM, WRNJ radio and WCTC-AM radio. This initiative, referred to as the CAU “Keep the Power” Generator Project now provides over 350 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities necessary power during future outages and emergency situations.
To hear all three interviews in its entirety, please go to: http://www.caunj.org/media/media.php - for more information on Sidney Blanchard, please visit:http://www.profnetconnect.com/sidneyblanchard
Community Access Unlimited (CAU) has been providing a broad array of support services in low income housing, daily living skills training, competitive employment and day program services, recreation and advocacy assistance and training for almost 35 years. They have most recently been named as one of the few statewide providers of support coordination, with the exception of their home-town of Union County.
With the great unknown of when the next storm will hit and with the impending cold and snowy weather, CAU knew that it had to get the project done now. Discussions and plans were in progress following Hurricane Irene, but after Superstorm Sandy, it was clear that the project could not wait any longer. The CAU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to allocate $350,000 of agency unrestricted funds to cover the cost of this project as the safety of the individuals served is the agency’s first priority.
Due to this initiative, individuals who CAU supports will receive access to necessary power-driven equipment at any time when there is a power outage. Life-sustaining equipment such as refrigeration for individuals who require insulin and medical equipment and breathing machines, shower chairs, hospital beds, and powered electrical wheel chairs will not be interrupted. Having power during outages also provides heat and air conditioning for individuals who are medically fragile or have complex behavioral challenges and give staff the ability to maintain telephone systems for necessary communication throughout the agency.
According to Sidney Blanchard, Executive Director, “Superstorm Sandy was the impetus to get generators installed in all of our homes. I can vividly remember member’s huddled in a living room in their home in New Providence so they could all share the one area of the house that had working electricity and a functioning DVD player to watch movies after we were able to install a portable gasoline generator. Unfortunately, after a week without power, staff had to wait hours upon hours on line for gasoline and make long trips out to Pennsylvania to keep the power going. With the commitment we have made to the individuals we support, our members will now be provided for whatever comes in the future, that’s the CAU Advantage.”
The generators coupled with existing emergency kits stored at each of CAU’s 235 homes can best prepare the agency for any future natural disaster. CAU is stronger than the storm and the Keep the Power generator project is just one of the many advantages that CAU has to offer individuals with developmental disabilities in New Jersey.