Nashua Emergency Shelter - Halloween Snow Storm 2011

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Steady Traffic Into Red Cross Shelter

As workers set up beds, people arrive seeking shelter from the cold, including families with children and the elderly.

By Carol Robidoux

October 30, 2011

A little girl in striped pants is running laps around the Nashua High School North gym, chased by a little boy in a gray sweatshirt. They arrived already friends, having met at the Anne-Marie House transitional housing complex in Hudson.

"We were comfortable there, even though the power went out last night," said Cheryl, the mom of the boy in the gray sweatshirt. "We didn't want to leave, but when the fire department came and found we had no power, the made us leave."

So they are arriving, refugees from the storm, along with others, to spend the night and make the most of a walloping winter storm that has left much of Southern New Hampshire scrambling for supplies, gas, generators and shelter from the cold.

Although the doors just opened at 3 p.m., three hours in and there are two dozen people here, carrying pillows and blankets. There are two elderly women in wheelchairs, and another woman with an oxygen tank, already settled into a cot.

Others sit in chairs reading, or eating a meal, while others rest on cots. The kids are animated, excited for no school, disappointed for no Halloween – heartened when they learn that Trick-or-Treating has been postponed a week.

One woman is leaving with a bag of dirty clothes slung over her arm.

"I just came for a shower," she said, hustling back through the snowy parking lot to her car.

Amerian Red Cross shelter volunteer Karen Dudley said that's exactly why they are here. All are welcome at the emergency shelter, for a shower or as long as they need a warm cot. The makeshift shelter was opened by the city in conjunction with the Red Cross as the number of residents without power continued to rise. As of 6 p.m. that number is 30,162 in Nashua, according to Public Service of NH.

There is room here for 726 cots.

"People are always more comfortable staying with family, but we are here and prepared for anyone in need," Dudley said.

The Nashua shelter is also pet friendly, which means there is room for pets, but it's bring your own accommodations.

"They need to have their own crates and leashes and food. We have space, and we welcome pets, but we don't have a partner to assist us in caring for the animals at this point," said Dudley.

Shelter Director Dave Shaw said he expects a rush of people later on tonight, when the thermometer dips into the teens.

"It's going to be cold tonight. People will give up around 9 or 10, if they're trying to stick it out, and head for the shelter," Shaw said.

And someone will be ready to greet them at the door," said Dudley.

"It doesn't matter what time they show up. The doors will be open," Dudley said.

Nashua High School North is located at 10 Chuck Druding Drive, off the Everett Turnpike, Exit 6.

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