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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Richard Bishop and his wife Barbara read books in front of the trophy case at Nashua High School North, Tuesday evening. Though the couple lives only a couple of blocks from Broad Street Elementary, their home was still without power. The Bishops said they were going to go home for the night.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Ben Chung types an email to the ukulele group he belongs to at Bishop Guertin as his father, Michael looks over his shoulder, Tuesday afternoon at Nashua High School North, where the American Red Cross had set up a shelter for those without power. Their first night staying in the shelter was well merited with the temperature at their home dipping into the forty's according to Chung.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS


    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph


    Electric devices, including a razor and cell phone, sit on a chair while charging, Tuesday evening at the shelter set up at Nashua High School North. The shelter's numbers have dwindled a bit from the previous night with about 100 people seeking shelter.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No power real concern for wheelchair-bound on upper floors

NASHUA – No one likes being without power, but it can be particularly scary when your devices aren’t cell phones and laptops, but oxygen tanks and nebulizers.

Folks at Palm Square, on Palm Street in Nashua, were getting pretty frustrated by Tuesday afternoon. Many of the 140 or so residents there are elderly and in wheelchairs and are trapped on the upper floors of the building because the elevators aren’t working. Many others have oxygen tanks, nebulizers or CPAP machines that need electricity to run.

“We’re in wheelchairs, and we can’t get downstairs,” said resident Mike Whitaker.

One woman, who declined to give her name, said she has to store her vials of insulin in a small lunchbox packed with snow because it has to stay cold.

Several residents have taken to sitting on a broad walkway on the second floor that overlooks the building’s atrium, playing Scrabble, cribbage and Yahtzee.

“The whole building has come together as a community,” Whitaker said.

But they are frustrated, especially since many buildings in the area have power. Building manager Nicole Plante said the building should be a PSNH priority since it has so many people with specialized medical needs.

“It is maddening to see light across the street and have all these helpless people here,” she said.

A generator is powering a small portion of the building and the building’s owners, Mario and Demyse Plante have brought in lights plugged into extension cords and surge protectors to partially light the hallways. Staff also is serving meals in some unused office space.

“Management has been very good,” Whitaker said.

A lot of residents are checking on one another, Demyse Plante said, knocking on doors a couple of times a day to make sure their neighbors are doing OK.

“It’s amazing here in the building. Everyone’s helping everyone,” she said. “We try to do our best. We just make sure everyone is warm and is comfortable.”

Nicole Plante said officials from Nashua Fire Rescue have offered to bring people to the Red Cross’s emergency shelter at Nashua High School North.

“But most people just don’t want to leave,” she said.

That’s not an uncommon feeling, according to Karen Dudley, a Red Cross spokesperson.

“What we find is that people from New England are very stubborn and don’t like to receive help,” Dudley said. “It can be very uncomfortable for some people. They see it as charity, and they don’t want to accept charity. The word shelter can have a negative connotation.”

Almost 120 people got over those feelings Monday night, Dudley said. Things were a little slower Tuesday night with about 100 people there around 7:30 p.m.

“It’s actually a little, tiny bit quieter,” said Alicia Drew, Red Cross volunteer and shelter manager.

Barbara Bishop said she would be sleeping at home but appreciated that she could warm up and grab a meal at the shelter.

“It’s been really nice because at home it was so cold,” she said. “I think it’s just wonderful to have a place like this and have the option to come here.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).