HARVARD — On Friday, the rain and ice had finally stopped. The wind had pretty much died down but the destruction the ice storm had wrought was far from over.
With a majority of the town left without power, the Board of Selectmen declared a state of emergency and a shelter was opened at the Bromfield School.
Cots lined the hallway and took over the faculty lounge but the cafeteria itself was filled with chatter and laughter.
Bromfield Chef Paul Correnty has been working 16 hours a day at the shelter, making and serving three meals a day for the residents who didn’t have power in their homes.
“This (storm) has brought the best out in this town,” Correnty said. Residents have been pitching in and “have really stepped up to show their support to those who need their help now.”
Correnty said even though the storm had long passed, the numbers coming to the shelter were not going down.
“I served 220 people dinner on (Monday) Dec. 15, easily,” he said.
The Fire Department loaned the shelter 75 cots to use and 50 of them were set up on the first night, volunteer firefighter Justin Hoisington said.
“The morning after the storm, I didn’t have power so I went and saw the chief (Robert Mignard) at the station and asked him what I could do to help,” he said. “I’ve been staying here and managing the shelter since then.”
Some 30 people had been seeking shelter in the school but when the temperatures dropped again on Saturday night, Hoisington said more than 40 showed up for a good night’s sleep where there was heat.
“We’ve had a variety of people,” he said. “There’s been elderly, families, just mothers and children. Some just come all day to stay warm but go home to sleep in their own houses.”
The residents seeking shelter were not the only ones showing up at the school; residents who still had power volunteered their time as well.
More than 100 adults and children spent hours at the shelter serving food, cleaning tables and even washing dishes.
“I never lost power,” 13-year-old William Sullevarger said. “I would feel bad just sitting in my house doing nothing. It’s the Boy Scout thing to do.”
Sullevarger spent three days at the shelter washing dishes, along with 15-year-old Maddy Desautels.
“Everyone needs a lot of help,” Desautels said. “We’re actually having a lot of fun. And like he said — it’s the Girl Scout thing to do.”
Sullevarger’s 11-year-old sister, Jane, also volunteered her time at the shelter, doing whatever Correnty needed her to do.
“I think helping people is a responsibility,” she said. “It makes me sad to see people sleeping in the hall. I’m sure it’s not that comfy or familiar to them.”
The Sullevarger family also opened their home to their kids’ friends, allowing the youngsters to host sleep-overs and allowing other residents to use their shower or electrical outlets to charge up their cell phones.
Correnty said he used the food the school would normally be serving to students, but he quickly realized they were running out of water.
“We bought some water from Polar Waters but they couldn’t get their truck out of the distribution center,” he said. “So, (selectmen) Ron Ricci and Peter Warren drove to Worcester and picked up two skids of water in their pickup trucks.”
On Wednesday, the shelter closed after the breakfast service and Selectmen Chairman Leo Blair said the shelter would be moving to the Hildreth House.
“We realized the shelter was down to having about 12 people stay overnight,” he said. “The center of town has power and the Hildreth House can handle that number. We’re hoping the people in critical need will take advantage of the shelter.”
The Bromfield and Elementary schools planned to reopen on Thursday, to allow those children without power to be inside with heat, light and food from the cafeterias.
“We’re thinking it will also allow the parents to go back to work,” Blair said. “We want to allow people to get on with their lives, to give them some sort of normalcy.”
Town Hall also reopened on Wednesday.