For Immediate Release - May 01, 2012

Additional Tornado Relief Funds Announced

Funds for home repair, tornado recovery staff and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

BOSTON – Tuesday, May 1, 2012 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced $520,000 in tornado recovery assistance funds to repair homes and manage recovery, continuing the Administration’s commitment to support the rebuilding efforts in municipalities impacted by the June 1, 2011 tornadoes.

The funds are being awarded through the $15 million for state emergency response efforts included in a supplemental budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Deval Patrick. The funding includes $425,000 to repair homes that were damaged by the tornadoes, $65,000 to support the hiring of a disaster recovery manager in Monson and $30,000 to Springfield Partners for Community Action for their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

"We are committed to helping our communities rebuild better and stronger than before,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We won’t stop working on our long-term recovery efforts until every family and business receives the assistance they need to get back on track.”

“Our Administration has worked side by side with communities affected by the June 1 tornadoes,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “Today’s announced funding supports a range of services that will help families and businesses in need as we continue to work together to recover and rebuild impacted cities and towns.”

“We are very grateful for these funds as we continue to move forward in the rebuilding process to assist those who were affected by the June 1st tornado,” said State Representative Michael Finn.

"This is a perfect example of our tax dollars working for our constituents. I am very happy to see Monson get what it needs and deserves as they continue to re-build from the devastating tornado, that hit 11 months ago. The Patrick administration has worked with us from day one and has kept their pledge to help us until Monson and all other communities impacted by the June 1st tornado, are whole again," said State Representative Brian Ashe.

Monson will hire a disaster recovery manager to perform a broad range of duties aimed at supporting the town’s rebuilding effort. The responsibilities of the position include coordinating state, federal and non-profit resources, managing and supporting planning activities and working with residents and businesses to identify local needs and opportunities.

 “The new funding for local professional disaster recovery management demonstrates a commitment to our long term recovery that will ensure a vibrant and robust community for future generations to enjoy and celebrate,” said Monson Town Manager Gretchen Neggers. “The Patrick-Murray Administration has, from the first hours after this disaster, recognized the unique characteristics of each community impacted by the tornado and has been flexible and creative in addressing and responding to our local needs. Despite the negative aspects of the tornado on our town and its people, the Patrick-Murray Administration has never wavered from its immediate commitment to a positive and constructive long term recovery, and we remain deeply appreciative.”

The home repair funds will be used to assist under-insured or uninsured homeowners in all nine impacted communities to make repairs to damage not covered by insurance or other resources. The funding will be administered by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission with a maximum benefit of $15,000 per household.

"The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is extremely pleased to be able to assist the Commonwealth in the implementation of what is clearly a much needed use of funds for those residents impacted by the June 1, 2011 tornado," said James Mazik, Deputy Director of Operations at PVPC. "We are working directly with many of the communities impacted by this tragic event and have seen and heard first-hand the need for housing rehabilitation funds for homeowners. We can adapt the PVPC's existing housing rehabilitation operations to insure that these funds are made available to those in need in a timely, efficient and effective manner. On behalf of the PVPC, I want to commend Governor Deval Patrick and the Department of Housing and Community Development for their persistence in finding funds for this effort and for their continued understanding of this region's needs."

The VITA program has and will continue to provide qualified, volunteer tax preparers to assist low and moderate income people with their income tax filings. Many households affected by the tornadoes have been displaced and lost crucial paperwork needed to complete their taxes. Additionally, victims of natural disasters are often eligible for tax credits and deductions and need assistance. The program is expected to serve an estimated 400 households.

Since the tornados in June of last year, the Patrick-Murray Administration has had a comprehensive response and rebuilding strategy for the affected areas. This includes initial public safety, housing and debris removal assistance in the days after the tornadoes; millions of dollars in aid to support homeowners and businesses, including $4.4 million for individual assistance and $16.5 million SBA funding; and consistent on ongoing follow-through on consumer complaints and requests for information through the Division of Insurance and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations' Home Improvement Contractor program.