What would you do? Skip a class on how your city functions during a crisis or spend the evening at a House Music festival in Irvington?
The choice was easy for Terri Holland as she listened intently to a compelling presentation from Juba Dowdell, Newark’s coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security and Preparedness. His division, he said, is located in the Department of Public Safety and it has an Emergency Operation Center to manage every critical incident that befalls the city.
That could be anything, Dowdell said, from a blackout, water main break, and hurricane to a presidential visit, the MTV Video Music Awards, or a world-class event at the Prudential Center.
“This is more important,’’ said Holland, knowing she made the right decision to blow off the House Music event.
“I wanted to be here.”
She was with her classmates, Newark residents, who are members of the department’s Public Safety Academy, a course that gives the public an in-depth view of the police and fire divisions. Thirty-two have signed up, and all of them, on a Tuesday evening, was in that same room that city personnel uses to navigate emergencies.
“Most people in the city have no idea this building is here,’’ Dowdell said.
They pass by it every day, unaware of the decisions made from within a massive $440 million public safety building at Clinton Avenue and Bergen Street.
Kenny Faulkner, a class member, was one of them. He knew the state and the federal government had offices of emergency management, but he never realized Newark had its own operation.
“I was surprised,’’ he said.
And pleased that the city has a 24-hour facility and the personnel to deal with emergencies and disasters that arise