In The News

Preparing for the next disaster


September Space founder and Executive Director Lisa Orloff discusses disaster-preparedness gear with Ken Thompson of Oklahoma City anti-terror group this week at September Space.

Gerry Bogacz barely made it out of the twin towers on Sept. 11.
The next time, he doesn't want to be caught off guard.

"In case something does happen, I want to be ready," said Bogacz, 45, a transportation planner from the Bronx who is attending a training today at September Space, a Manhattan nonprofit that teaches people how to prepare for disasters and help victims.

"I'm not going to leave the city, and if something does happen, I'm not just going to sit through it," he said.

Bogacz, who escaped from the 82nd floor of the north tower and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor's guilt, has benefited from psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication.

But for Bogacz and thousands of other New Yorkers, the constant terror alerts and the upcoming Republican National Convention are bringing back haunting fears of another attack.

Lisa Orloff, founder of September Space, said that during the past four months, workers have been getting an increasing number of calls and E-mails from fearful New Yorkers.

"People asked if we had information - and some just vented over the phone, saying, 'God forbid it should happen again,'" said Orloff.

Today's 4 p.m.-to-7 p.m. training on the 11th floor of the center, at 520 Eighth Ave., is in response to the calls.

Attendees will receive free "go bags" of emergency supplies and information that could help them survive an attack.

The free training will also showcase the group's PERCS - plan, educate, respond, collaborate and support - program, which focuses on volunteering and how to be prepared for the psychological effects of helping victims in a disaster.

"In terms of duct tape, plastic sheeting, gas masks, hoarding supplies of water - sometimes that is overkill," said Ken Thompson, who lost his mother in the Oklahoma City bombing and will be a featured speaker today.

"But if something does happen, the people who are prepared will be the ones we won't be laughing at. The ones with the bags and who've gone through the training are the ones who will be the future volunteers and heroes."

Originally published on August 13, 2004
New York Daily News