Vernon is poised to take on bitter cold over the next two days.
The National Weather Service said that daytime temperatures, coming off overnight lows of about 4, will not get out of the teens on Wednesday.
The wind makes it much worse. Wednesday's wind chill values can be as low as minus-8. with west winds 7 to 14 mph and gusts as high as 25 mph. Wednesday overnight temperatures could drip to 2, according to the weather service.
The town's two overnight shelters - Tri-City and Cornerstone - were either at capacity or near it, shelter and town officials said. Cornerstone Executive Director Helen Syriac said on Tuesday night that her operations should be OK. But, she added, many calls have been coming in.
The town is standing by just in case. Emergency Management Director Michael Purcaro said cots and blankets are ready in the event the shelters need them.
He said "if the need arises," the Senior Center can be used as a "small-scale" shelter. The regional shelter at Vernon Center Middle School will open only if there is a large-scale need, he said.
Syriac said Conerstone's soup kitchen will remain open as a walk-in center all day on Wednesday so folks can keep warm.
The governor's office issued the following news release on Tuesday:
With bitter winter cold temperatures expected over the next several days, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today directed the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to coordinate with 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable people are protected.
“Overnight temperatures are expected to range from 0 to 10 degrees over the next several days,” Governor Malloy said. “Factor in the wind chill, and it will feel like 0 to -15 degrees. We are taking steps now to make sure that we can take care of those in need of shelter.
“The 2-1-1 system provides an incredibly important service to the people of Connecticut and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the help that is available to them. I am also encouraging local communities to consider opening warming centers or other facilities to help people in need.”
Under the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol, DEMHS activates its WebEOC communications network – an internet-based system that allows local, regional and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions. The system is used to monitor capacity at shelters across the state, enabling 2-1-1 to act as a clearinghouse to ensure shelter space is found for those who need it. Local officials, working through WebEOC, can alert 2-1-1 and the state when they open temporary shelters or warming centers.
DSS coordinates with 2-1-1 and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, as well as working with existing vendors to resolve transportation issues for people needing shelter during the period of severe cold.
DMHAS, meanwhile, has teams who specialize in working with homeless people to locate those who are at risk, spread the word about the 2-1-1 system, and encourage everyone to take advantage of the safety of shelters. The agency is also working with shelters to assess and meet the needs of individual clients during this cold snap.
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