As Hurricane Sandy drew closer to the Northern Berkshires on Sunday, a slew of schools and organizations made the call to close up shop today in anticipation of the storm system's high winds and expected 2 to 3 inches of rain.
Schools across the area are closed or dismissing students early today, and many have already made the decision to remain shuttered Tuesday as well.
The approach of the storm led officials in Adams and North Adams to declare a state of emergency in both communities effective at noon today.
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and Adams Town Admin istrator Jonathan Butler both issued press releases Sunday afternoon offering details for residents on school closures, emergency shelters and where to find updates.
"It is anticipated that this storm will not bring the flooding rain that we saw with Hurricane Irene," Alcombright said in the release. "However, this storm will be bringing significant wind and has potential for property damage and power outages."
Gov. Deval Patrick, declaring a state of emergency in Massachusetts, said Saturday that 200 members of the National Guard are already on standby and the number will rise to at least 1,000 by the time the storm hits the state today.
The Berkshires are expected to see high winds from late this morning through early Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y.
"By this afternoon sustained winds will increase to 30 to 40 mph, with wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph," said meteorologist Joe Villani.
Emergency shelters have been established in both Adams and North Adams, with the city sending people to St. Elizabeth's Parish Center starting at noon today, and Adams directing residents to the Adams Visitors Center, also opening at noon today.
"Any residents with power outages, damage or any other reason that must leave their homes are welcome to report to the shelter," Butler said in the news release. "People should bring with them food, water and all other essential supplies, including hygienic items and medications. People are encouraged not to bring their pets, but if they must, they can be housed across the street at the Adams Fire District. All pets must have food and be crated, or else we will not be able to house them."
In North Adams, all city offices will be open today and all public safety and services personnel are on call and will be available throughout the event, according to the release. Residents are advised to not park on city streets during the storm. Halloween has been tentatively rescheduled for Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Butler said Adams will close the Town Hall, library and Council on Aging for all non-emergency personnel. Adams residents needing assistance with any storm damage should call the Adams Police De partment at 413-743-1212.
In North Adams, those experiencing flooding, downed power lines or downed trees are asked to call the North Adams Fire Department at 413-664-4922 or 413-664-4933. If a North Adams resident needs to be evacuated, has a "non-emergency" medical concern or needs home oxygen, they can call the North Adams Ambulance Service at 413-664-4933. The mayor stated that those with emergency situations should call 911.
For the most current local information, officials in both communities are directing residents to local media outlets including the North Adams Transcript website and Facebook, iBerkshires, WNAW, WUPE and Time Warner Channel 22. Radio reporting updates at 21 and 51 minutes after the hour.
Updates will also be posted on the Facebook pages of both communities' police departments, as well as on both Alcombright's and Butler's Facebook pages.
The CodeRED emergency alert system will be used throughout the storm to provide updates in both communities.
The mayor also noted that National Grid is "fully prepared to handle any power outages." Should power go out, it won't be restored until after the storm, Alcombright said, cautioning residents to be prepared for significant power outages.
"This storm should be fully upon us late Monday afternoon and we can expect high sustained winds throughout the night subsiding by Tuesday morning," Alcombright said in the release. "The result of those winds is the unknown and we should all be prepared for an extended cleanup as well as a possible extended power outage."
New England Newspapers reporter Dick Lindsay contributed to this report.
Closed for the duration
Area schools and organizations closing in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy:
* Adams-Cheshire Regional School District is closed Monday and Tuesday. Schools include C.T. Plunkett Elementary, Cheshire Elementary and Hoosac Valley Middle & High School.
* Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School is closed Monday only.
* Clarksburg Elementary School is closed Monday.
* Emma L. Miller Memorial School in Savoy is closed Monday.
* Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida is closed Monday and Tuesday.
* Hancock Elementary is closed Monday.
* McCann Technical School is closed Monday.
* Mount Greylock Regional High School is closed Monday.
* North Adams Public Schools are closed Monday and Tuesday. Schools include Sullivan, Brayton & Greylock elementary schools, Drury High School.
* Pine Cobble is closed on Monday.
* Pownal (Vt.) Elementary School will release students at 12:15 p.m. on Monday. There is no preschool.
* Stamford (Vt.) Elementary is closed Monday. No pre-school. No afternoon activities.
* Williamstown Elementary is closed Monday.
* Berkshire Community College is closed Monday. Includes all locations.
* Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Classes closed on Monday and Tuesday. No evening classes. No adult education.
* Williams College
* Berkshire Food Project is closed Monday and Tuesday.
* Adams Council on Aging is closed Monday and Tuesday.
* The Adams Town Hall and Adams Free Library is closed Monday. Emergency personnel only.
-- Closings announced as of Sunday, Oct. 28.