2018-03-30 / Front Page

Emergency shelter plan is approved

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — Following the approval of Arundel and Kennebunk selectmen in February and RSU 21 Board of Directors on March 6, Kennebunkport selectmen became the final piece of the protection puzzle when they approved creation and funding March 22 of a jointly-run emergency shelter.

Interestingly, creation of the new shelter site was initiated by Kennebunkport in the wake of the Oct. 30 wind storm that left some areas of town without power for more than a week.

“That left us in a quandary because the Consolidated School is certainly our designated shelter area, but they were in session, so people did not have a place to go,” Town Manager Laurie Smith said at the March 22 board meeting. “Luckily, the temperatures were such that most people decided to stay home and were fine with that, but if that had been in January it would have been very different.”

In response, Smith and Police Chief Craig Sanford reached out to the other towns “to push the issue of a joint shelter,” Smith said.

According to a memorandum of agreement between the three towns and the school district, the Dorothy E. Stevens Center in West Kennebunk — located at 80 Thompson Road, between the Middle School of the Kennebunks (MSK) and the West Kennebunk Fire Station — will serve as the front line shelter, housing up to 25 people in a declared emergency.

If more people than that living in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel, require sheltering, the middle school will be opened for that purpose, with the Stevens Center used to house any pets brought by families.

Setting up the shelter will cost $3,345 in year one and $2,496 per year for the next three years after that, to be divided equally between the three towns.

The majority of that money will be used to buy cots for use by those who take advantage of the space, with 50 purchased each year until a supply of 200 is on hand. Year 1 costs also will include wiring to connect a power generator to the Stevens Center and an outdoor metal storage pod to be placed beside the West Kennebunk Fire Station, to warehouse the cots.

The York County Emergency Management Agency will supply 200 blankets free of charge to the towns, as well as pillows, towels, washcloths and a limited number of toiletry kits.

The shelter will be staffed primarily by volunteers, as well as emergency medical services personnel from the three towns. The towns agree, as part of the approved plan, to share equally the cost of operating the shelter during an incident, including reimbursing the school for any meals provided. The town’s may recoup funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but agree to fund the center without that expectation and to share costs equally regardless from how many, or how few, residents from each town make use of the site.

The memorandum of agreement also says each town “agrees to participate in meetings and drills related to disaster relief,” and that they “agree to furnish educational materials and appropriate training to dealing with citizens and animals in a disaster.”

“It makes great sense to do this with all three towns involved and the cost divided up amongst us. The support is better and you save money in the long run,” said Patrick Briggs, chairman of the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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