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In Wake Of Alfred, Warmth Provided For Residents At NMS



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In Wake Of Alfred,

Warmth Provided For Residents At NMS

By Eliza Hallabeck

After just four hours at Newtown High School on Sunday, October 30, Newtown’s emergency shelter was moved to Newtown Middle School where warm water was made available to residents. On Wednesday, November 2, American Red Cross Volunteer and Shelter Manager Tom Strang said the shelter at NMS was providing warmth, showers, and beds for residents in need.

Mr Strang said the middle school took in roughly 30 families each night from Sunday to Tuesday, and nearly a constant line of people waited at the school for showers.

Volunteers also stopped by the middle school, 11 Queen Street, periodically, offering food and help.

“Everybody is pulling their own weight here,” said Mr Strang. “It is great.”

Inside the front doors of the school, situated at a table near the entrance to the A-Wing gymnasium, resident Lori Kehoe helped direct residents to the showers, food, and coffee.

“I’m staying warm,” Ms Kehoe said, adding, with a laugh, “might as well work.”

Ms Kehoe, her husband Chief of Police Michael Kehoe, and American Red Cross volunteer Betsy Kraushaar were instrumental in helping at the shelter this week, according to Mr Strang. Ms Kraushaar relieved Mr Strang of his post Tuesday night, and promised to do the same thing on Wednesday.

“She’s another saint,” said Mr Strang.

Others helped at the emergency shelter throughout the week, including the middle school’s custodial staff and the Health Department, according to Mr Strang.

Residents streamed through the doors of the school at different times during the day, according to Mr Strang, while the shelter was open this week. Some came for the showers only, others stopped by to thaw out, and others stayed on after intending to visit the shelter for only a short amount of time.

Inside the A-Wing gym residents waited, sitting in a line for showers, Wednesday midmorning. Mr Strang said people stopped by the school at all hours for showers during the week, some at 6 am.

Cots were spread along the gym floor, spotted with newspapers, blankets, and pillows.

While bringing a pillow from home made the cots more comfortable, Ms Kehoe said, pillows were also supplied by the shelter for residents. Ms Kehoe also said many beds were available for those in need of a warm place to sleep, and said anyone who was cold should be encouraged to go to the shelter at the middle school.

For anyone interested in volunteering, Ms Kehoe recommended stopping by the school first to find out what was needed.

“All in all,” said Ms Kehoe, “I think we are good.”

Each night, Mr Strang explained, lights were turned off at 10 pm. The red glow from the gym’s scoreboard provided enough ambient lighting during the night, however, allowing those who were staying overnight to move safely to the adjacent locker room facilities.

For Florence DePalma and Mary Edwards the shelter provided warmth and “delicious food,” both agreed.

While Ms Edwards said the shelter has been helpful with power out at her Sandy Hook home, she hoped on Wednesday to have power restored soon, if only to return to her own bed.

“The food is good and the people are so considerate,” said Ms Edwards.

Ms DePalma also said the shelter was helpful and running water was a plus.

“They have been terrific here,” said Ms DePalma. “Really.”

The shelter was open to residents at all hours this week, and will operate until the town’s storm related needs dissipate.

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