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Worcester news you can use!

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WORCESTER STORM INFO:

Parking ban in effect early Tuesday, City offices closed, trash collection delayed

Worcester prepares for 18+inch storm!

In anticipation of Tuesday’s snow storm, predicted to drop 18-plus inches on Worcester, City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. on Monday made the following announcements:

CITY STORM RESPONSE

· Public works crews began pretreating the city’s streets at noon Monday and will continue through the evening. Morning crews will be ready to go starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday, with more than 350 pieces of equipment ready to plow, salt and sand.

· The city’s Customer Service line, 508-929-1300, will be staffed starting at 6:30 a.m. through the end of the storm.

· The City’s Emergency Operations Center at the new Regional Emergency Communications Center will open Tuesday morning and stay open throughout the storm, to allow representatives from various City departments, public utilities and the Worcester Public Schools to coordinate their response.

PARKING BAN

· A declared winter parking ban will go into effect at 2 a.m. Tuesday. Residents can check the city’s website to find out where to park on their street. The parking ban is an essential part of keeping the city’s streets clear in a snow emergency, and the Worcester Police Department teams will be enforcing the ban as soon as it begins, with tickets and tows where necessary.

· All municipal garages will be open and free to the public starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, through the duration of the storm, until 8 a.m. Wednesday.

TRASH/RECYCLING COLLECTION

· Trash and recycling collection will be postponed for Tuesday. Collection across the City will be delayed by one day. Tuesday’s collection areas will be picked up on Wednesday; Wednesday areas will be collected on Thursday, and so on. This will allow for all available resources to be put towards plowing and clearing the roads.

SCHOOLS

· The Worcester Public Schools have canceled classes for Tuesday.

CITY OFFICES CLOSED

· City Manager Augustus has ordered all municipal offices closed on Tuesday, in keeping with Gov. Charlie Baker’s call to keep as many people as possible off the roads. City Hall, the Worcester Public Library, the Worcester Senior Center will all be closed to the public, and to all non-essential city employees.

· All City Hall meetings, including City Council, will be postponed.

· City Manager Augustus also urged all Worcester businesses to consider closing if possible on Tuesday, or to encourage employees whose jobs allow to work from home.

SHELTERS

St. John’s [Church on Temple Street] will again open its emergency overflow homeless shelter Monday evening.

The St. John’s food pantry will remain open throughout the day Tuesday.

The city’s emergency shelter at Worcester Technical High School will be ready if needed for large-scale power outages or other emergencies requiring the sheltering of a large number of people.

*****

Fred Astaire called her “beautiful dynamite” …

Taking care of stray/feral/street cats in winter‏

By Deb Young

Street cats, alley cats, wild cats, feral cats, homeless cats … there are a lot of different names we give to these free ranging felines. Most of the time, they take care of themselves, scavenging and hunting for their meals while also depending on the kindnesses of cat lovers, but things can get worse when the weather turns frigid.

In any neighborhood that supports a healthy (i.e, neutered and released) feral cat population, rodent populations are kept in check, eliminating the need for harmful chemicals and poisons, and protecting the residents of these neighborhoods from the diseases and damage rodents can cause to life and property. Cats are a practical and “green” solution to this universal problem. In addition, a family and neighborhood commitment to caring for a controlled feral cat population teaches our children that we respect life and appreciate the work these cats do for us.

This is why many animal supporters encourage community participation in maintaining their local feral cat population. If you count yourself amongst these supporters, there are ways you can help your local cats to get through the winter with a minimum of hardship. If you can get your neighbors involved, so much the better.

Cats don’t need a lot of space, just a space that is large enough for them to stand and move about and stay safe from the harshest outdoor elements. When the weather is at its coldest, the cats will be relying on each other for warmth, and will create their own tight spaces within their shelter. With that in mind, you can use whatever space and materials available to you to create a small haven.

Homemade shelters can be crafted out of nearly anything: from a sturdy cardboard box (think of the heavy cardboard used for packing television sets) to an anchored plastic garbage can to a few pieces of scrap wood that have been arranged as a buffer against the wind and snow and rain. The shelter should be large enough to accommodate several cats comfortably, but not too wide or tall. In fact, the smaller the size, the better the space will be equipped to retain the cats’ body heat.

Finally, be sure to locate the shelter in a safe, concealed spot where the cats feel securely hidden from predators and can watch their surroundings.

The cats will require extra calories and fat during the cold weather months in order to maintain their energy requirements.Canned cat foods are also a great source of high calorie nutrition, but because of their higher liquid content they may freeze during the coldest temperatures.

Feeding the cats at the same time each day will allow them to expect and rely on a schedule. If they do not know whether they will be eating or not, they will venture out into the cold to look for food, defeating the whole purpose for the care project. Having a dedicated “feeder,” or a small group of scheduled “feeders” who take turns, can make the process much smoother. Also important to the cats’ survival is fresh, clean water. Of course, snow is an excellent source for water, but don’t forget to check the water bowl regularly to make sure it hasn’t frozen during the night.

Feeding and water stations should be protected from the cold and placed as near to the sleeping shelter as possible so that the cats do not have to be exposed to harsh conditions when they need to eat or drink.

While the cats may not be able to thank you in ways you can understand, you will know that they have repaid your kindness with the absence of rodents, and you will know that it is all worth it.

Please, Governor, help! (or: National Grid and Illyrian Gardens, home to more than 70 elderly folks …

By Rosalie Tirella

… and my mom. They are without power. Which means my mother, 84, and her friends (60ish to late 80’s) have no heat, light, hot water, stove, etc. It is the equivalent of placing Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens in a meat locker.

It is day 2, heading into night. I am afraid … .

My mom, Cecilia, like many of her I. Garden friends, can’t negotiate stairs. Since the elevator is down, she cannot walk down her (dark) corridor and walk down (in the dark) a flight of stairs to my car. Besides, Mom, like many of her Illyrian Garden (545 Salisbury St., Worcester) pals – many of whom are Albanian immigrants and speak very little English and are certainly not connected to anyone in power (no pun intended!) anywhere – does not want to stay with relatives or be evacuated to Forest Grove Jr. High.

So I visit my mother each day and bring hot food and coffee – carbo loading for the cold. Her homemaker and PCA come and do what they can. Her I. Garden friends will give her donuts. All the food in her fridge is spoiled. Yesterday I brought her some nice hot carbs: mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and thick pizza. Today it is apple pie and coffee and meatloaf. “Eat,” I tell her. “It’s will keep you warm.” I bundle her up, set her meal out and curse National Grid and executive director of I. Gardens, Mark Doku. Doku, who has been at the helm for more than two years and seems to bungle everything AND doesn’t even seem to like old people, has been told by me that I. G. needs a back up plan! A community room that will stay warm or cool depending on the season – run by a generator! I have also called Elder Services to complain. These people are utterly pointless! The Elder Services guy (last time) told me I was being a good daughter, advocating for my mom. Then nothing happened! I have called 911 – the Worcester police. I have talked with city leaders. NO response! How can this place – Illyrian Meatlocker – continue to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in HUD funding if the residents of I.G. are in peril (and they are today/tonight) everytime we have extreme weather!
(and with global warming we will have more of it)

Shame on National Grid. I buttonholed a National Grid guy in his truck right outside of I. Gardens. He was just staring into space. Probably on break – with scores of big, gnarly tree branches down around him. I told him what was happening with my mom and the other seniors. He seemed surprised – but not concerned. I pointed at the tree tops. He looked at them and said “That’s the one!” I said: “Good! There are very old people in there! Can you call a truck so that they can fix this up soon?”

He said he would. I left and he was still sitting in his little white Natonal Grid pickup truck, still staring into space.

Surreal …

My mom, is a frail 84. Besides being a pigheaded ol’ Pole, she is sweet, easy to talk with, hopeful and very friendly. She loves all animals and the Red Sox. She is also MY MOM. I adore her because she has always adored me (hard to do, sometimes!).

To see Ma like this. To see her firends like this. To see the spoiled food … Please Governor Patrick, National Grid, anyone …. please help the seniors of Illyrian Gardens, 545 Salisbury St., Worcester.

Tornado response information and resources:

Springfield – There has been an outpouring of interest in how individuals and organizations can learn about, and support, the recovery effort underway in Western and Central Massachusetts. A week later, the recovery effort is fully underway in those communities hardest hit by the tornadoes and storms that moved through the area June 1.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.

MEMA has designated Mass 2-1-1 as the Commonwealth’s primary telephone information call center during times of emergency.

This important partnership affords citizens the opportunity to access vital, up-to-date disaster information, numerous post-disaster programs, interpreter services, and tracking of caller locations, greatly reducing the number of non-emergency calls made to 9-1-1. Residents should continue to use 9-1-1 for emergency or life safety issues. By dialing 2-1-1 in Massachusetts, callers are connected to local services – from food, clothing, and shelter assistance to counseling, legal and financial services, and much more. Learn more about Mass 2-1-1 by visiting: www.mass211.org or find help online by visiting: www.mass211help.org. Mass 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Mass 2-1-1 can also be reached by calling 1-877-211-6277.

Mass 2-1-1 is also acting as a central clearinghouse to inform the general public about the needs of communities impacted by the crisis including directing interested callers to volunteer opportunities, as well as to places that will take donations of both money and material goods.

Private homeowners and businesses are encouraged to report damages using the Mass 2-1-1 system. Collection of this damage data is important as the MEMA continues to assess the magnitude of this event and will assist in determining if federal disaster assistance may be available for those property owners and businesses most heavily impacted by this event.

As local officials will be busy assisting their impacted residents recover from this event, reporting damages directly to Mass 2-1-1 will assist MEMA in the damage assessment process. Those calling Mass 2-1-1 will be asked to provide basic information regarding name, address and type of damage.