Monroe Animal Control officers Edward Risko and Teri Latulipe unloaded 15 pet cages from a Connecticut Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security storage container outside the Monroe Senior Center Monday morning, with the help of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers Jerry Gaynor and Joyce Burr.
Pets will be allowed at the senior center with carriers and proof of rabies vaccinations.
Inside, a town technology department employee installed WiFi for guests who choose to stay at the center, rather than spend the night alone during the peak of Hurricane Sandy. The center was opened as an emergency shelter at 8:30 a.m.
Weather reports aired on the flatscreen TV on the wall as the lone human staying at the center so far — someone left her son's pet gecko there too — read a newspaper at one of the tables.
The woman, who asked not to have her name used, said, "My family lives in California, so they said, 'Mom, you can't stay in the house alone.' My neighbors wanted me to go too. They insisted. I really didn't want to come here, but I thought about being home without electricity."
She said some of her neighbors left town to stay at relatives' homes.
Another woman stopped by the center with her son today to drop off his pet gecko. The gecko is staying in a heated glass cage.
Gaynor credited senior center and social services director, Barbara Yeager, for having already done much of the prep work before CERT volunteers arrived to finished setting up the center as a shelter this morning.