For Immediate Release - June 28, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Awards Springfield and Monson $1.9 Million in Tornado Relief Grants

BOSTON – Thursday, June 28, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced grants totaling $1.9 million to help Springfield and Monson with tornado debris cleanup and restoration efforts. The grants are the first from the $4 million in funding Governor Deval Patrick announced on the one year anniversary of the tornadoes, June 1, 2012.

“These grants are about recovering and rebuilding,” said Governor Patrick. “We are committed to standing with these communities as they move forward to become stronger than ever before.” 

Communities are eligible to receive grants for tornado relief, to help with clearing debris, tree replanting, and assistance for local fire departments.

In Springfield, $1 million will go toward debris removal, reforestation and stabilization at nine public park properties impacted by the tornado. Another $400,000 will allow the city to replant trees on public property.

“These funds demonstrate the Administration’s continued commitment to the communities impacted by the tornadoes,” said Secretary Sullivan. “Together, we are improving the quality of life in our communities by getting public parks back open for everyone to enjoy.”

“I appreciate the dedicated support from Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan. Since day one of the tornado, they have been assisting the city of Springfield,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “Resources provided by the Commonwealth have made the difference in a speedy recovery for Springfield. There is still work to be done and we will not rest until we reach 100 percent of the rebuild.”

In Monson, $500,000 will help the town advance a number of cleanup projects, including repairs and improvements to public recreational areas like ball fields, tennis courts and hiking and cross-country skiing trails. The grant also includes $55,000 for tree planting on public property, and it will fund a design for a downtown river walk.

“The town of Monson is excited to receive this new funding allowing our community to make repairs and improvements to public parks and recreational land,” said Monson Town Administrator Gretchen Neggers. “The funding will help make a reality our goal to emerge with stronger and better public facilities, including a more family-friendly downtown environment. We remain grateful for the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to assisting in our recovery.”

Earlier this month, Governor Patrick visited the tornado-damaged region to announce the $4 million in available funding for the communities of Agawam, Brimfield, Charlton, Monson, Southbridge, Springfield, Sturbridge, West Springfield, Westfield, and Wilbraham.

Communities are eligible for $3 million in tornado recovery work to clear debris from parks and other public spaces as well as cleanup efforts on private land.

The $800,000 in tree replanting funds will allow for the planting of approximately 1,600 trees in parks and along streets in the ten impacted communities.

In Brimfield State Forest, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will use $154,000 for cleanup work in coordination with the Monson and Brimfield Fire Chiefs, as well as the installation of fire gates and improvements to existing fire roads.

The funding also includes $50,000 for fire safety assistance grants to the ten communities as well as surrounding communities that provide mutual aid for firefighting.

The $4 million in funds are the next phase in recovery assistance, which began on June 21, 2011 when Governor Patrick signed a supplemental budget bill that provided $15 million to support costs incurred in response to the June 1, 2011 tornado. Following the state’s multi-faceted emergency efforts last spring, the Administration has maintained its presence in the region, dedicated significant resources to rebuilding projects and partnered with federal and local officials to get business and homeowners back on their feet.

To date, individuals, homeowners and businesses have received more than $26.7 million in federal disaster assistance to cover uninsured losses. The Department of Housing and Community Development helped hundreds of families find emergency shelter and has so far funded $525,000 in home repair. The Division of Insurance served as a resource and advocate for consumers filing $200 million in claims. More than 98 percent of the 11,500 tornado-related insurance claims filed after the June 1, 2011 storm have been paid, with policyholders receiving $200.3 million from carriers.  More than 81 percent of claims were paid within four months of the storm. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has directed $2.3 million in state funding to repair more than 20 streets throughout the region.

“I continue to be inspired by the passion and motivation in the town of Monson to rebuild,” said Sen. Stephen M. Brewer. “The state’s continuing commitment to partner with these towns is allowing communities impacted by the tornado to clean up and rejuvenate some of these beautiful outdoor spaces.”

“Today's announcement is another example of the Patrick-Murray Administration and legislature's commitment to those affected by the June 2011 tornadoes,” said Sen. Gale D. Canderas. “Secretary Sullivan has been a tremendous partner in this long recovery effort.”

“I want to applaud the Governor and his administration for prioritizing the rebuilding of the City of Springfield. This grant of $1 million is greatly appreciated and will serve to help revive the park areas that were hard hit by the tornado over a year ago.  This funding is crucial, especially now during the summer months when families in the community utilize our parks the most,” said Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera.

“It is important to acknowledge the commitment of the Patrick-Murray Administration to the full recovery of Springfield and other communities hit by the 2011 tornado, and we are pleased at the follow through carried out by Secretary Sullivan and his staff,” said Rep. Benjamin Swan.

“This additional $1 million is welcome news for Springfield and will be a tremendous help as the city moves forward with its recovery efforts,” stated Rep. Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. “The funds will help the city with much needed debris removal, reforestation and will also help to stabilize city parks that were severely damaged by last year’s tornado. Governor Patrick and his administration deserve our sincere thanks for their continued support.”

“Even though money can never replace everything that was lost during the devastating tornado of June 1st, 2011 it will go a long way in making things whole again”, stated Rep. Brian Ashe. “I am extremely happy with the Patrick-Murray Administration in that they have stayed with the Town of Monson and worked with local, state and federal authorities to make sure everything that can be done, will be done.”

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