Vestal, NY – During a press conference at the United Way of Broome County, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo announced that the State Legislature passed a bill she introduced to activate the 2-1-1 NYS information and referral service during a state disaster emergency. The legislation (A9526-Lupardo/S8553A-Harkham) adds the State Director of 2-1-1 NYS to the Governor’s Disaster Preparedness Commission. She was joined by 2-1-1 State Director Kelly Dodd, United Way of Broome Executive Director LoriAnne Welch, and the Susquehanna River Region 2-1-1 Director Candace Gregory to make the announcement.
The Disaster Preparedness Commission is currently comprised of the commissioners, directors and / or chairpersons of 29 State agencies and one volunteer organization, the American Red Cross. This bill brings 2-1-1 into the commission, which will facilitate efforts to coordinate 2-1-1 NYS and local emergency management offices to respond to non-emergency requests for assistance.
While initially developed to provide access to human services, the 2-1-1 helpline has proven to be an invaluable asset in disaster response and long-term recovery during snow and ice storms, floods, and most recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2-1-1 relieves 9-1-1 and other government agencies of calls for non-emergency assistance.
Earlier this year, Assemblywoman Lupardo helped secure $2.4 million for 2-1-1 services in the state budget, a $400,000 increase from the previous year. This investment will allow 2-1-1 to develop a statewide resource database of services, a centralized website to facilitate resource inquiries and provide reimbursements for activation in areas experiencing a disaster.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, “2-1-1 is an invaluable community asset. They are available 24/7, providing vital information and referral services to New Yorkers across the state. They play an especially important role during states of emergency and recently helped communities through the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that 2-1-1 receives the recognition they deserve by including them in the state’s emergency response plan.”
Kelly Dodd, Director of 2-1-1 NYS said, “2-1-1 NYS is thrilled to be recognized for the work it does supporting communities in the wake of a disaster. With passage of this bill, Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator Harckham are ensuring that New York State communities will have an easy to remember number to call for help and information, while keeping 9-1-1 available for life and safety calls. Making 2-1-1 officially part of the state’s emergency response plan gives emergency planners another tool in their toolbox as they prepare for the next incident.”
LoriAnne Welch, United Way of Broome County Executive Director said, “For many years, 2-1-1 has proven to be an extremely efficient and impactful way to connect those in need to critical programs and services. New York State is rich in resources but finding those resources can become a complex web to navigate, especially during times of emergency and disaster. The new legislation further promotes the work of 2-1-1 in response to emergency and natural disasters; and the inclusion of 2-1-1 on the Disaster Preparedness Commission allows the network to be activated whenever a state disaster occurs. We are extremely grateful to Assemblywoman Lupardo, Senator Harckham, and all the dedicated NYS leaders that have made this possible for our team, organization, communities, and state.”
2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 2-1-1 or visit helpme211.org.