Brockton man managing shelter under lockdown in Miami
It was 2:30 Sunday morning when power at North Miami Senior High School went out and the generators kicked in, one of the first signs of Hurricane Irma’s impending fury.
Andrew Enos, a 19-year-old Red Cross volunteer from Brockton, is managing a shelter there where he estimates more than 900 people are staying. The building was in lockdown Sunday morning as the storm started to envelop southern Florida.
“It’s physically not safe to be out there,” Enos said in a telephone interview with the Globe just before noon. Police officers were coming into the building from the street as the weather intensified, Enos said. At that time, Irma’s winds had just started picking up in Miami, but trees were falling outside.
“It hasn’t really hit us yet,” he said. When contacted late Sunday afternoon, Enos told the Globe he couldn’t speak because his phone was about to die.
Red Cross of Massachusetts estimates about 20 Bay Staters are in Florida to help, and the Massachusetts Task Force 1 has 19 people and four dogs working in Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
On Sunday, Governor Charlie Baker authorized the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to send a three-person emergency operations team and a nine-person nursing team to Florida, which requested the assistance through a mutual aid system.
“Massachusetts is ready to provide whatever assistance we can to help Florida and neighboring states deal with the immediate and long-term impacts of Hurricane Irma,” Baker said in a statement.
The operations team, which is made up of one MEMA employee and two from the Department of Environmental Protection, will work in the infrastructure branch of Florida’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. The eight nurses and one hospital emergency manager, from the Beth Israel Deaconess hospital system, will tend to evacuees in shelters, according to the statement.
Four more Red Cross staff members are working at North Miami Senior High School — volunteers from New York, Ohio, Kansas and another from Massachusetts. Officers with the county medical examiner’s office are providing security, Enos said, and Miami Date County police are offering help as well.
At noon they were unpacking military food provided by the Red Cross and preparing lunch.
Enos said North Miami Senior High School is a fairly new building made of concrete, so it can withstand a Category 4 or 5 storm. When Irma reached the Florida Keys, it was a Category 4 storm, spanning 400 miles with punishing 130 mph winds. It was downgraded to a Category 3 storm later Sunday afternoon.
Enos had been home for two days before his flight to Orlando on Tuesday, a short respite between service trips to Houston, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and now Southern Florida. He was promoted twice upon arriving in Miami, going from a service associate to a shelter manager.
He was well aware Sunday morning the storm was just beginning. “It’s going to be all day and all night,” he said.