As the wind howled outside, the Tisbury School gymnasium was eerily dark and empty early Tuesday morning, and only a few of the 30 cots looked like they had been slept in last night. In the school cafeteria, the volunteers outnumbered the evacuees. Only two people sought shelter last night, according to volunteer Brian Kennedy of Oak Bluffs. “We have 11 volunteers from the Island and four Red Cross staff on hand,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We fed eight off-Island utility crews earlier in the morning. The crews were notified that conditions were too dangerous to go out, and went back to their hotel until further instructions.”
Mr. Kennedy said the volunteers had just completed a call with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and were told all of Nantucket had lost power and it would be days before power is restored: “We’ve been very lucky that the power has stayed on for the most part. We’re in a lot better shape than Nantucket, that’s for sure.”
Mr. Kennedy said the shelter will remain open until further notice.
On Monday, emergency management directors in the six Island towns finalized plans to provide emergency shelter Monday at the Tisbury School.
The Tisbury School at 40 West William Street was used to service all Island residents who needed shelter. Emergency officials decided it would be best to consolidate staff and services in one shelter, rather than open a shelter in each Island town, as they have done in the past.
The Tisbury School opened at 6 pm, Monday night, and was ready to handle a limited number of house pets. Emergency management directors had a plan to open a second shelter if needed.
Emergency officials advised those in need of shelter who cannot travel to call 9-1-1, or their local police department.
Red Cross officials stressed that anyone coming to the shelter should bring medications, and any emergency medical equipment, such as oxygen cylinders. They also encouraged people to bring a change of clothing, any special foods they will need, toiletries, pillows, and blankets.
If bringing a pet, also bring pet food, bowls, medical records including rabies certification, leashes, collars and ID tags.
Emergency officials were more concerned with the probability of high winds and frigid temperatures, than the amount of snow expected.
“There will be drifting snow, and with the extended period of snow it’s going to be tough to keep up with it,” Edgartown emergency management director Peter Shemeth said Monday. “My concern is more with the velocity of the wind, wires coming down, and extended power outages.”
Emergency officials sent at least one message through the Code Red emergency notification system, which automatically dials home phone numbers. They caution people not to be alarmed by the recorded message, but to pay attention to the latest emergency information. Some residents reported receiving multiple messages