Schools will be closed on Tuesday, and warming centers and shelters will open, as Plympton and Halifax on Monday braced for a blizzard that could dump two to three feet of snow and knock power out for days.
Monday afternoon, Halifax Highway Surveyor Robert Badore said the town had a couple of loaders and a couple of trucks on standby. A regular corps of drivers who have been with Halifax for years were ready to go, with trucks all fixed up and waiting for the action.
“We’re pretty well all set. We’re just waiting for it to snow now,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of money now, but with this storm, that will put a dent in it. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Badore said who knows, but half of the storm might blow out to sea. Nevertheless, people should expect the worst, he said.
“Stay home and stay off the roads. It makes it easier for us to do our job,” he said.
Halifax Council on Aging Director Barbara Brenton said the Halifax Elementary School will open as a drop-in warming center starting at 8 p.m. tonight, Monday, for people who lose power.
Halifax, Plympton and Kingston plan to open an emergency regional shelter, if needed, starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Silver Lake Regional High School, she said.
Plympton Police Chief Patrick Dillon said to expect a winter storm of long duration with heavy, wet snow and power outages.
“We have a hardy bunch in this town, I can tell you from past storms. I’m proud of our residents,” he said. “Please be patient.”
Stay away from and report downed wires, as they might be energized.
Use caution when using generators or alternative heat or light sources, such as candles, he said.
Dillon said no vehicles may be parked in the street and if they are they will be towed.
Call 911 for assistance and police and fire will be dispatched, he said.
The Plympton Town House will open as a warming center on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Wednesday from 7 a.m. to when needed. The warming center is a place for people to get warm, charge cell phones and get a cup of coffee if they lose power, he said.
Dillon said town departments are not taking chances the storm will fizzle but have taken the time and will be prepared.
“I’d rather be prepared and not needed, than not prepared and needed,” he said.
Plympton Fire Chief Warren Bosari, the town’s emergency management director, said he is staffing the fire department with an additional eight firefighter-paramedics starting at 6 p.m. today, Monday, until at least through 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The police department will add staff and have four officers working on each shift, Bosari said.
Both ambulances will be staffed at advanced life support levels. A rescue engine company will answer major calls such as structure fires, extrications and motor vehicle accidents. Engine 3 will respond with an ambulance on medical calls, along with a shift commander, Bosari said.
Bosari said he will send a firefighter-EMT to help staff the regional shelter at Silver Lake High School starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The Plympton Town House is an American Red Cross shelter, and so is the Dennett Elementary School. If power is lost, the Dennett School cannot be fully heated, and the Town House is the backup shelter. If the regional shelter at Silver Lake fills, or the roads are impassable, Bosari said the Plympton Town House will be used as a shelter.
“My residents, they’re a hardy bunch,” he said. “People are good for a couple of days. In this town, they’re used to it.”
Bosari said there is no municipal water supply in Plympton, and he might need to go to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for help with water or another need. MEMA might be able to send a trailer with potable water, if they have the resources.
People now might be filling their tubs with water or 50-gallon drums with water for their farm animals, but Bosari said he is concerned with what might happen if the water runs out.
“There’s a serious public health risk,” he said.
Bosari said his first priority is to keep the roads open in order to let police and fire respond to calls, and then to answer 911 calls.
“Almost every one of my trucks has chainsaws, and men trained to use them,” he said.
In Halifax, Halifax CERT or Community Emergency Response Team volunteers will help staff the warming center and shelter, Brenton said.
The two Halifax Council on Aging vans will be available to transport people to the center or shelter, and police and fire will help, she said.
Halifax Town Administrator Charlie Seelig said residents should call the Halifax Police Department business lines at 781-293-3511, 781-293-3533, or 781-293-5761 for assistance and information. Please do not call “911” unless it is an emergency, he said.
Pets are not allowed at the Halifax Elementary School. Pets are allowed at Silver Lake High School, but owners must bring all items and supplies for their pets. Pets should be caged or heavily restrained at all times, Seelig said.
Brenton said the private Halifax Mobile Home Park will open the community room, which can be powered by a generator.
She said the town and townspeople are pulling together as a team.
“We just ask people to keep a watch on their neighbors, help each other out, check on everyone and make sure they’re safe, that they have food and water,” she said.
School Superintendent John Tuffy said the warming center at the Halifax Elementary School and regional shelter at the Silver Lake High School opened at 6 p.m. Monday.
Tuffy said the regional school district is responsible for plowing the parking lots and removing snow from the regional high school and middle school, and the towns are responsible for the same at the Halifax, Kingston and Plympton elementary schools.
He said school officials would need to see how much snow there is, the conditions of the roads, and what kind of power there is at the school and in the towns before deciding whether there will be school on Wednesday.
“We’ll deal with it as it goes along,” he said Monday night. “I don’t know if it will be one for the record books, but there will certainly be no school tomorrow.”
All of the school buildings have emergency generators if power is lost, but “we’re not really designed to be disconnected from the grid forever. We’ll have to see what happens.”
In Halifax, Seelig said all curbside pickups of trash and recyclables scheduled for Tuesday will take place on Thursday. All curbside pickups of trash and recyclables scheduled for Wednesday will take place on Friday.
The Recycling Center will be open tonight, Monday, from 5 to 8 p.m. It is tentative whether the center will be open on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seelig said.
Halifax Town Hall will be closed on Tuesday. Tentatively, the Town Hall will be open during normal hours on Wednesday, he said.
The Halifax Board of Selectmen’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Halifax Finance Committee’s meeting with the Finance Committees in Plympton and Kingston scheduled for tonight, Monday night, has been canceled.
The Holmes Public Library will close at 6 p.m. today, Monday, and will be closed all day Tuesday. If the roads, walkways, and parking lot are clear and power has not gone out, the library plans to be open regular hours, noon to 8 p.m., on Wednesday. However, it may be advisable to call ahead at 781-293-2271 to confirm that the library is open before heading out, Seelig said.
The Halifax Council on Aging /Pope’s Tavern will be closed on Tuesday and there will be no regular van service available on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The volunteer luncheon for all Salvation Army ringers scheduled for Tuesday at the Council on Aging has been postponed until this Friday at noon. Please call the Council at 781-293-7313 if you can make it this Friday, Seelig said.