On Sunday, Nov. 7 between 1 and 3 p.m., the Knox County towns of Hope, Cushing, Friendship, Washington and St. George will welcome residents to an open house at their community shelters.

Village residents are encouraged to stop in and see the community shelter, meet their shelter teams, and volunteer if they’d like to become more involved. Tips for emergency preparedness will be on hand and residents can sign up to be on a list to be contacted in the event of a disaster. Coffee and sweets will be served.

In Hope, the community shelter is at the new Hope Corner Fire Station on Route 105. In Washington, it is the Gibbs Library. In Cushing, it’s the Cushing Fire Station, and in St. George the community shelter is at the town office. In Friendship, two local Girl Scout Troops are hosting the community shelter at the Hahn Community Center on Route 97.

The open houses are part of an initiative by Knox County Emergency Management Agency to help towns in the county identify a facility as a community shelter, and help recruit and train the volunteer teams to manage them in the event of a power or other emergency. Community shelters offer a respite from the cold or heat in the event of an extended power outage, as well as good food and the company of neighbors. In rare occurrences, the community shelter would also offer an overnight accommodation to residents displaced in an emergency.

“We have developed a plan for emergency sheltering that is integrated from the town to the regional level,” said Ray Sisk, director of Knox County EMA. “In past storms we had lengthy power outages, and we want to ensure we are ready to help those in need at all community levels.”

“In addition to the community shelters, we have also identified a number of schools in the county that can serve as Red Cross Regional Shelters should we ever have an incident of that magnitude,” Sisk said.

The towns of Warren, Union, Friendship, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Thomaston, and the city of Rockland are still in the planning stages and developing their volunteer teams. Volunteer opportunities include becoming a town liaison to the Red Cross, assisting neighbors who require extra help getting to and from a community shelter, in addition to the roles of opening, operating and closing a facility.

For more information, contact the town’s emergency management director or Eileen Wilkinson at the Knox County Emergency Management Agency at 594-5155 or ewilkinson@knoxcountymaine.gov.