WILLIAMSTOWN - Residents of The Spruces Mobile Home Park will meet today at noon with Town Manager Peter Fohlin and other town officials to make a group decision on whether the town needs to open a shelter for park residents as Hurricane Sandy approaches the area. "This is not Irene," Fohlin said at a meeting with park residents Sunday afternoon, referencing the extensive flooding the park saw during last year's tropical storm. "Irene was 10 inches [of rain]. This is perhaps 3 inches of rain. Three is not particularly unusual."
The meeting, held to update residents on preparations for Sandy's anticipated arrival today, was the second held since Friday. 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. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph are predicted to start this afternoon, with wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph.
"We are not going to be doing an evacuation," Fohlin said to the residents gathered in the park's library. "We're not bringing in buses and bringing people to other locations. It just doesn't seem necessary at this point."
For those residents who do decide to leave the park for the duration of the storm, Fohlin stressed communication in order to help coordinate with town efforts at the park.
"[Spruces Property Manager] Marilynn [Kirby] is going to be passing out 'gone' signs," he said. "If you leave, put them in your window. You remember these from last time. Tell Marilynn you're leaving.
"If you make a decision to go, do it by Monday at noon. It's easier to drive in clear weather. We can't tell you when it's going to start raining, but this storm isn't going to catch us by surprise."
Fohlin announced the plan to decide at noon today about opening a shelter, stressing that the town was not telling people to stay in their homes, but that everyone could make the right call on their own. "We won't tell you that you shouldn't leave the park," Fohlin said. "We won't tell you do not leave your home. Everybody can make good decisions on their own.
"[Monday's] meeting is at 12. Things could be a lot calmer at 12 than they are at 3 in the afternoon. We're going to know everything there is to know by 12.
"Between now and 12, we want you to think about whether you're going to leave the park or not. We're probably not going to open a shelter on principle. We're all close enough that we can make that decision together. We'll all be making a group decision around 12 [Monday] if we want to go to a shelter. We'll say tomorrow at noon where that shelter is going to be. If we agree to open a shelter tomorrow ... we'll open it at 3, and I would expect that you would go home again the next morning." Fohlin added that the only reason a shelter would be opened for the rest of the town is if there is a widespread power outage across town.
Elsewhere in town, Fohlin said after the meeting that crews have been performing typical preparation tasks with city infrastructure in advance of the storm, including clearing catch basins and roadside debris.
"Other than that, it's situation normal," he said.