For Immediate Release - June 01, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $4 MILLION IN TORNADO RECOVERY AID

Funding builds on Administration's commitment to helping the region rebound

BOSTON – Friday, June 1, 2012 – On the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that touched down in western and central Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick today announced an additional $4 million in funding to assist 10 communities in clean up and recovery efforts, continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration’s steadfast commitment to rebuilding the impacted communities stronger than before.

“Today, we mark the devastation of the tornadoes of the June 1, 2011 and resilience of those who have and continue to rebuild their lives,” said Governor Patrick, who will visit Monson and West Springfield later today to commemorate the anniversary. “I am proud of the progress we have made over the past year, and am confident that our communities are rebuilding and rebounding stronger than before. I am pleased to announce an additional $4 million to support the next phase of recovery, as a further indication of our commitment to stand with the people affected until every community is restored.”

“As we commemorate the first anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornadoes, we remember the lives lost and remain committed to helping all impacted families and individuals recover and move forward,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.  “In the aftermath of the tornadoes, our Administration has worked side by side with tornado-impacted communities in central and western Massachusetts and we will continue to do so until all communities are restored.”

The funding is available for Agawam, Brimfield, Charlton, Monson, Southbridge, Springfield, Sturbridge, West Springfield, Westfield and Wilbraham and can be used for tree replanting, debris removal and clean-up and assisting local fire departments. The funding also sets aside $154,000 for cleanup efforts in the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Brimfield State Forest.

“These funds demonstrate the Administration’s continued commitment to these communities,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan. “They will keep our communities safer from the threat of fires while improving the quality of life in our communities with new trees.”

“The Patrick-Murray Administration remains committed to providing support to the residents and communities affected by this disaster,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez. “This additional funding will pay for continued recovery efforts in the impacted communities to help ensure the long term recovery of this area in the future.”

Communities are eligible for $3 million in tornado recovery work for the 10 communities to clear debris from parks and other public spaces. 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.

DCR will use $154,000 for cleanup work at Brimfield State Forest 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 10 communities as well as surrounding communities that provide mutual aid for firefighting.

The funds announced today are the next phase in recovery assistance, which began last June when Governor Patrick signed a supplemental budget bill that provided $15 million to support costs incurred responding to the tornadoes. 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.

In recent weeks, members of the Administration have traveled to western and central Massachusetts to recognize the individuals who dedicated their time to the rebuilding process, and to announce additional resources to assist the region. 

  • Governor Patrick announced $2.1 million in affordable housing resources to rehabilitate the Center City Apartments in Springfield, a development heavily damaged by tornadoes. Using $1 million in state housing subsidies and $1.1 million in state and federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the Patrick-Murray Administration, the project will preserve 47 units of mixed-income family housing in four buildings throughout three Springfield neighborhoods.
  • Lieutenant Governor Murray announced a $300,000 grant for DevelopSpringfield to aid in the implementation of the Tornado Rebuilding Master Plan. The funds are being awarded by DHCD through the $15 million supplemental budget.
  • The Lieutenant Governor also announced an additional $75,000 grant to support Rebuilding Together, Springfield’s effort to repair homes damaged by the tornadoes. The funding comes on top of the $100,000 awarded by the Patrick-Murray Administration to Rebuild Together in September 2011. Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey joined Lt. Governor Murray in Springfield to award $1.35 million in reimbursements to the City to fund essential storm damage repairs.  The funds for Springfield are part of $3.9 million in federal emergency funds available to reimburse eight communities for the cost of emergency repairs associated with the storms.  The funds supported rebuilding of roads, sidewalks and debris removal.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby honored 43 state employees at ceremonies in Springfield and Monson with the Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for their efforts responding to the tornadoes. 
  • Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein recognized leaders of tornado recovery efforts at Commonwealth Academy in Springfield, one of 14 work sites served by a $3 million National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant has provided temporary employment for 126 dislocated workers to date.
  • Secretary Gonzalez toured a tornado site in Brimfield where he announced a $58,000 grant to the towns of Brimfield, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Warren and West Brookfield to purchase a sign-making machine and asphalt roller and trailer to assist in continued recovery efforts.
  • Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki announced that 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.
  • Secretary of Education Paul Reville visited Square One in Springfield and Coburn Elementary in West Springfield to discuss how the tornado impacted school children.

“This funding is welcome and needed assistance for these communities that are still in the process of rebuilding,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer. “It further demonstrates our unfaltering commitment to restoring a sense of safety and normalcy to the residents affected by this disaster.”

“With Southbridge and the other western and central Massachusetts communities continuing to deal with effects of the devastating tornado, and given the continual need to rebuild, this is certainly welcomed news,” said Senator Richard T. Moore.

“I am pleased the Patrick-Murray Administration has made restoration of the natural beauty of the impacted communities a high priority,” said Senator Michael R. Knapik. “While the tornado’s path of destruction was unforgiving, these monies will go a long way to returning the pristine nature of the Pioneer Valley, including the cities of Westfield and Agawam.”

“When I drive down the streets in the areas hit hardest by the tornado, one of the things I notice is the lack of trees,” said Senator James Welch. “Municipality budgets don’t have the additional resources for this effort but it is an important one.  There aren’t just homes and community centers that need to be rebuilt, it’s also the vibrancy of the neighborhood and the landscape goes a long way to contribute to that. I continue to be appreciative of the support from the administration in this process.”    

“The Patrick-Murray Administration stands by its commitment to the communities affected by the June 1st tornadoes,” said Senator Gale Candaras. “These funds will go a long way towards making our neighborhoods safer, improving residents' quality of life, and ensuring that we come out of the recovery process even stronger than before.”

“The Patrick-Murray Administration is to be commended for, not just the official role it has played in the physical clean-up effort, but for their moral support, too. Sometimes just showing up is also important,” said Representative Benjamin Swan.

“On the one year anniversary of the devastating tornado I cannot thank the Patrick-Murray Administration enough for their continued support to see us recover completely from this devastation," said Representative Michael J. Finn.

“This money will go a long way towards helping Springfield rebuild from last year’s tornadoes,” said Representative Sean Curran. “I am pleased for all of the assistance that the Governor has provided and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration on future efforts.”

“One year ago the Governor along with all of the elected officials that represent the communities hit by the tornado made a pledge to be there from the start to the finish,” said Representative Brian Ashe. “This additional aid shows that the commitment to the tornado damaged communities is stronger than ever and I am happy and proud to see the Patrick-Murray Administration lead the way. This money will go a long way in rebuilding the landscapes that have been forever changed.”

“This is great news for parts of my district that were impacted by last year’s June 1 tornado,” said Representative Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. “This will ease the strain placed on cities and towns who have already spent funds for clean-up and rebuilding after this devastating storm.”

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.

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