Written by Jesse Muhammad
Photos courtesy of IN-CERT
(Blogger's Note: Too many times I have watched major disasters occur across the country and the world wherein grassroots organizations are overlooked in the heroic efforts they make to save the lives of people. Such was the case during Hurricane Katrina when saggin' pants wearing, undershirt sportin', and braids having youth mobilized their neighborhoods to save thousands of people from the flooding waters. But they were not given the due recognition, only images of looting were associated with them.
Well, here is your chance to immediately get acquainted with a community group of brave well-trained residents of Houston who stepped up to the plate during Hurricane Ike and is still working as I write this blog.
IN-CERT, Inner City Emergency Response Team, is headed by Mr. Khallid Greene. IN-CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. For years, members of churches, groups, schools, and centers have been getting training led by IN-CERT to prepare them to be first responders in situation such as Hurricane Ike....and they did!
I went one-on-one exclusively with Mr. Greene via telephone a day after his team went into action in the streets of Houston.)
Brother Jesse (BJ): When did IN-CERT hit the streets?
Khallid Greene (KG): We started assessing damage around 4:00am Saturday morning (Sept. 13) right after Hurricane Ike struck. There was a complex on North MacGregor that had four feet of flood water, so we got busy rescuing people.
BJ: How were you all able to help people?
KG: We were able to rescue 53 people who were stranded by the flood water in Third Ward. That included new born babies in the projects. We aided many elders. Then we went to the North side of Houston to assist with directing traffic for eight hours because there were no police officers or sheriffs in sight to keep the chaos down. So we were all over the city in hard-hit areas.
BJ: Sounds like you all were deep in the trenches. What else has IN-CERT accomplished in the wake of Hurricane Ike?
KG: Yes sir we have been and are still working hard. There were two seriously damaged apartment complexes on Martin Luther King Dr with torn roofs and the people were still living in them with water falling through into their units. So we were able to contact city council and get two Metro buses which transported 146 people to the George R. Brown Convention Center. We were also able to remove debris from the power lines of a complex which caused them to be one of the first complexes to have electricity restored in the city. We have also assisted a lot of people with getting temporary housing.
BJ: Looking ahead, what do you think our communities need to do to better prepare for disasters such as Ike?
KG: We need to get a plan, back that plan and most importantly we need to implement that plan. If we do not train, organize and work our plans of action then we will continue to be at the whim of Mother Nature and these calamities. We need to build our own community infrastructure to respond to these emergency situations in all of our neighborhoods. Everyone has to step up.
(I salute all of the members of the IN-CERT squad for putting their lives on the line and all of those grassroots organizations who tend to get overlooked. Below is a video I produced with photo highlights of IN-CERT in action!)