MEMA Eyes Western Mass for Abandoned Migrants

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Some of the migrants abandoned on Martha's Vineyard in September could find homes in Western Massachusetts. 
On Sept. 14, approximately 50 South American asylum-seekers were sent to the island of Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas, under the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. No one was informed of their imminent arrival, leaving the small island community to scramble to find shelter and services for them.
Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee Chair Michael Britton informed the committee on Wednesday morning that the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has been preparing for Western Mass as the next location to relocate some of these people.
The asylum-seekers had been transported to Joint Base Cape Cod to provide them more services, including legal services. Many of them had court dates in Texas that they would have missed being in the Northeast.
MEMA was concerned because it took a mass effort to get the immigrants situated and fed, said Britton, and the agency was developing locations and policies for them. 
MEMA is in charge of finding housing for these people which is why they are coming up with procedures. This is the same role it played during COVID-19, said Lt. Col. Thomas Grady of the sheriff's office.
"We had all of the locations at hotels throughout the commonwealth, for people that were unhoused that needed to quarantine. So there's some models in place for how they can move people," he said.
Places like Pittsfield are likely to be notified if people will be moved to the Berkshires, and it is unlikely that places like Hinsdale or Becket will be chosen.
The September incident is now the subject of a class action lawsuit that alleges fraud in that the migrants were promised jobs and housing if they got on the plane. 
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State Fire Marshal: Keep Warm, Keep Safe During Cold Snap

STOW, Mass. — With bitter cold temperatures heading our way this weekend, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is reminding residents to "Keep Warm, Keep Safe" and avoid fire and carbon monoxide (CO) hazards while heating their homes.
"Home heating equipment is the second-leading cause of residential fires and the main source of carbon monoxide at home," Ostroskey said. "Working smoke and CO alarms are your first line of defense against these hazards. With furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters working overtime this weekend, be sure they're installed on every floor of your home and test them to be sure you and your family are protected.
Space Heaters
"It's important to keep space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding, and anything else that can burn," Ostroskey said. "Plug them directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or a power strip, and remember that they're intended for temporary use. Always turn a space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep."
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