AUBURN, Mass. - The Board of Selectmen recently adopted a new Shelter and Comfort Station policy developed by the Local Emergency Management Planning Committee, in the event of a man-made or natural disaster that displaces Auburn residents from their homes.
On Monday, Emergency Management Director Kenneth A. Holstrom and Citizens Emergency Response Team Coordinator Anthony A. Pellegrino presented the board with a five-page policy, described as a "general guideline or reference for locating, preparing, publicizing, staffing, operating, securing, pet care and the eventual closing of an emergency shelter."
According to the policy, "This document is intended to assist the Auburn Emergency Management Team and staff to adequately deploy resources to assist displaced Auburn residents in the safest and most effective manner possible."
Last year, Auburn activated emergency shelters for residents three times as a result of weather-related emergencies including the extreme heat in July, Hurricane Irene in August and the early nor'easter in October 2011.
According to the policy, the primary shelter will be at Auburn High School. Secondary shelter will be at Auburn Middle School and transitional or temporary shelter may be activated at the Auburn Senior Center or any other alternate location as determined by the Town Manager or his/her designee in consultation with the Emergency Management Team.
Situations that may require shelter operations include but are not limited to weather related events, widespread electrical power loss, high heat or extreme cold conditions, hazardous materials, widespread flooding, major fire event, and any other incident which is determined to require emergency shelter.
Selectman Stephen Simonian raised concerns regarding the shelter's ability to care for pets.
According to Town Manager Julie Jacobson, residents are encouraged to bring in their pets if needed.
The policy states, "Animals shall be accepted to the shelter only if accompanied by their owner and cared for by their owner. Animals requiring shelter shall be housed in the facility within the guidelines of the pet shelter rules. Individuals that bring animals shall provide food, water, medications, current vaccination records, cat litter/pan, food and water bowls, secure crate, bedding, toy, collars and leashes. Pet owners are responsible and liable for the actions of their animals."
Jacobson is also currently in contact with the Central Massachusetts Disaster Animal Recovery Team to develop an agreement if additional assistance is required for a specific pet situation.
"CMDART would be brought in only if it couldn't be handled on a local level," Jacobson said.