For Immediate Release - October 23, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Tornado Relief Grant for West Springfield

$141,690 for tornado clean up and demolition of abandoned property

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today joined state and local officials to announce $141,690 to assist West Springfield with tornado debris cleanup and the demolition of an abandoned building.

The grant, which will also be used to repair sidewalks and curbs, replace street signage, and clean storm drains, is from the $4 million in funding Governor Deval Patrick announced to help impacted communities 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.”

“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 rebuilding, restoring, and replanting so residents can enjoy their neighborhoods for generations to come.”

“We remain committed to providing the necessary resources to the impacted communities so they can continue to rebuild,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez. “Today’s announcement helps bring Southbridge one step closer to that goal.”

“I appreciate the continued support of the Administration in our efforts to rebuild the Town of West Springfield,” said Sen. James T. Welch. “This grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will provide essential funds to clean up the impacted areas. This project will help to repair the landscape of the town and the vibrancy of our neighborhoods.”

Today’s grant award is great news for the Town of West Springfield. These monies will go a long way towards getting us back on our feet after the devastating June 1 tornado and I can’t thank Governor Patrick and his Administration enough for their continued support,” said Rep. Michael J. Finn.

“On behalf of the Town of West Springfield, I am thrilled to accept this grant from Secretary Sullivan, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,” said West Springfield Mayor Gregory C. Neffinger. “This generous grant will aid in the continuing emotional and structural rebuilding of West Springfield.”

The $4 million in funding is available to the communities of Agawam, Brimfield, Charlton, Monson, Southbridge, Springfield, Sturbridge, West Springfield, Westfield, and Wilbraham. There are three categories of funding included:

  • $3 million in funds administered by EEA for debris removal and general recovery projects for public property and parks.
  • $800,000 in funds administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for tree planting.
  • $50,000 in funds administered by DCR for fire assistance grants

In addition to the grant announced today, West Springfield received $50,000 for tree planting and $5,000 for its fire department needs from the DCR.

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 $739,000 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 $2.8 million in state funding to repair more than 20 streets throughout the region.