By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Despite a one-day rain delay, the Community Emergency Response Team held its first car show fundraiser Sept. 18 at Lowe’s, 23111 Outer Drive, to help fund the volunteer group’s efforts.
CERT volunteers receive disaster preparedness training so they can assist community professionals following disasters and other local emergencies.
Recently Allen Park and Melvindale CERT helped following the DTE natural gas explosion in Melvindale at 3 a.m. at the evacuation center.
“We assist the police and fire any way that we can, so they are freed up to save lives,” Allen Park Police Lt. Chris Egan said.
Egan said volunteers are trained through the Federal Emergency Management Agency program to assist first responders during tornadoes, floods, plane crashes and other natural or man-made crises by setting up command posts, helping with evacuations, light search and rescue and basic first aid.
He said the money they raise helps them get equipment, CERT identifying T-shirts, radios and to maintain their vehicles.
“We just put a new exhaust on our command post,” Egan said. “So all those things cost money, but we’ve been fortunate that since we started this three years ago we haven’t had to ask either Allen Park or Melvindale for one penny. We’ve raised it all ourselves from the generosity of our friends.”
He said they passed out fliers at the Woodward, Fort Street, Telegraph and Hines Drive classic car cruises, and the CERT Big Tire Allen Park Melvindale Car Show was originally scheduled for Sept. 17, but rain forced them to reschedule.
“I think if we’d had this weather yesterday,” he said, looking at the blue, cloudless sky, “we could have had 400 to 500 cars. But live and learn. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next year, and we appreciate the 20 cars that came out.”
Chris Fusco, who brought his 1976 Chrysler Cordoba, said he had never heard about CERT before the car show.
Andrew Fusco Sr. brought his 9-year-old son Andrew Jr. and their 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, which they work on together, to the show.
“This is what we do,” he said. “We get out and we have some fun, and we go hot-rodding and we hang out.”
Andrew Jr. said working together on the car and hanging out together is fun.
Egan said he appreciated the beautiful cars that came out, and they raised $805 for CERT. They hope to secure the location with Lowe’s next year.
Egan said donations can be mailed to CERT in care of Allen Park City Hall, 16630 Southfield Road, Allen Park, MI, 48101. For more information go to apmcert.org.
He said CERT has about 25 active volunteers, but has trained hundreds of people who could step in during an emergency, and are also part of a larger Wayne County CERT group that includes teams from Dearborn, Lincoln Park, Taylor and Canton Township.
Egan said they always welcome new members.
“The training is phenomenal, so I would encourage anyone who wants to come out and help,” Egan said. “You can’t go wrong learning first aid and search and rescue.
“Basically CERT training prepares (you) to help yourself, and then your family, your neighborhood, and your city. The more people that are trained to help themselves, the less people police and fire have to do to get there to help you.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)