Shelter Operations

Pepperell maintains readiness to provide emergency shelter services to its residents when a disaster occurs.  An Emergency Shelter is a facility used as temporary housing for town residents during a town wide emergency.  Its opening is determined by the EMD or their designee and in concert with the Town Administrator and other department heads as necessary.

Criteria for activation may include:

  • Broad scale power outage of an extended duration, primarily in cold weather
  • Broad scale property destruction caused by severe weather or other catastrophic event
  • Extensive flooding of residential areas
  • Hazardous material exposure or catastrophic events requiring resident evacuation
  • Other threats to health and safety as determined by police, fire, health board or other town officials

Unless otherwise determined, there is a 24-hour shelter in place directive prior to shelter activation to allow for normal emergency and public services to respond.  Alternate day-time locations may be used as warming or cooling centers such as the Pepperell Senior Center or Lawrence Library.  These facilities are available during normal hours of operation or, in special circumstances, when announced otherwise. Overnight accommodations are provided at the Varnum Brook School when required.  Public notices are sent out when these resources are activated.   

The Emergency Shelter is staffed by volunteers under the management of a Shelter Coordinator.  They are present to track guests, provide assistance, arrange for meal services, etc.  Staffing is around the clock as long as the shelter is open.  Medical assistance is provided by on-call EMTs.  Want to volunteer?  Send an email to or call 978-650-1680 and leave your name, address, and email address and/or phone number.

All residents opting to use the shelter once activated must check in and out.  They should bring their own clothing, personal hygiene supplies (emergency kit are available), medications and mobile phones.  Cots and blankets are provided.  Food services are arranged as needed.

Pets (dogs and cats) are not allowed in the main shelter area and will be crated in a separate area of the building.  Residents are responsible to feed and clean up after their pets. No unusual or exotic pets are allowed. NOTE:  Service animals are allowed in the main shelter area, however the American Disabilities Act only recognizes dogs as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA and they must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.  You may be asked what the animal is trained to do.