For Immediate Release - October 23, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces $286,110 Tornado Relief Grant for Wilbraham

WILBRAHAM – Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today joined state and local officials to announce $286,110 to assist Wilbraham with tornado cleanup efforts.

Wilbraham plans to use the money for debris and stump removal from 11 public open spaces and town rights of way.

The grant 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 Wilbraham one step closer to that goal.”

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 the planting of approximately 1,600 trees in parks and along streets in the impacted communities;
  • $50,000 in funds administered by DCR for fire assistance grants.

In addition to the grant announced today, Wilbraham received $50,000 for tree planting and $5,000 for their fire departments’ needs from the DCR.

“It was especially critical after last year’s devastating year of weather for the state to step in and show support both on the ground and with financial aid to assist communities in their return to full health,” said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr. “DCR was happy to be part of that assistance.”

“Thanks to the dedication of the Patrick-Murray Administration, Secretary Sullivan, and our local officials, I am pleased to announce that the Town of Wilbraham will receive nearly $300,000 in grants towards our tornado recovery efforts,” said Sen. Gale Candaras. “This is yet another example of the Administration honoring the promises it made in the aftermath of the storm. I know how much the Children’s Museum means to Wilbraham residents, and I am gratified to have played a role in ensuring its restoration.”

“I’m pleased to work with Secretary Sullivan and Commissioner Lambert in continuing to provide state assistance to Wilbraham’s tornado recovery efforts and I’m grateful for their assistance,” stated Rep. Angelo J Puppolo, Jr. “In particular, I want to praise Dick Swain, Wilbraham’s tree warden, for his dedication and commitment to the town. I’m honored to pay tribute to his legacy.”

“We are so very appreciative to receive the support of Secretary Sullivan and the funding issued from his office to help with our community’s tornado recovery efforts,” said Robert J Boilard, Chairman of the Wilbraham Board of Selectmen. “For the past year, the Town has worked tirelessly to clean up the devastation caused by the 2011 tornadoes and storms. This additional funding will allow the Town to continue its efforts to restore the environment impacted by this force of nature and to further ensure the community’s safety from damaged, dead trees as well as aid in preventing forest fires.”

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.