Additional Disaster Relief Announced for Sturbridge and Southbridge

(BOSTON)Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre) and the Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that federal aid will become available to the communities of Southbridge and Sturbridge for much of the storm-related infrastructure damage, debris removal and emergency response costs incurred from the June 1 tornado and severe storms.     

The assistance was authorized after additional inspections were made of the tornado damage in these communities under a Major Federal Disaster Declaration issued by President Barack Obama last month. This ‘Public Assistance’ (PA) announced today for Southbridge and Sturbridge is in addition to the assistance, which had previously been made available to Hampden County under the original declaration.

“I want to thank President Obama for acknowledging the impact that these devastating storms have had on Southbridge and Sturbridge,” said Governor Patrick.  This assistance will be critical in helping these two communities continue on their road to recovery.”

“When I walked through Springfield, Southbridge and Sturbridge hours after the tornado, it was hard to believe I was still in Massachusetts.  It looked like a war zone.  We all promised that federal help would be on the way.  Now this declaration will make a huge impact for folks who have to put their homes, businesses, and lives back together,” said Senator John Kerry.  “FEMA’s Craig Fugate had a good conversation this week with me and Richie Neal about the importance of leveraging every resource.  I’m grateful to President Obama for listening and delivering for Massachusetts.”

I’m glad that FEMA recognized the damages suffered by these towns and I’m pleased they are now eligible for federal funds, which will be instrumental as they continue to rebuild from the destruction of last month’s tornadoes,” said Senator Scott Brown.

“Since the tornadoes passed through our region last month, causing unprecedented damage, I have been determined to secure as much federal assistance possible for ongoing the recovery effort.  Earlier this week, I had another conversation with the FEMA Administrator urging him to add Sturbridge and Southbridge to the list of communities eligible for 75 percent reimbursement.  Today’s announcement is another indication that people of western and central Massachusetts will get the resources they need to rebuild their homes, business and lives,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

“This is outstanding news for the Town of Sturbridge, a community that suffered an enormous loss as a result of the June 1st tornadoes.  I applaud FEMA for adding Sturbridge to the disaster declaration, as it is the appropriate decision.  The damage we have seen from this storm is something we will not likely see again in our lifetime and the financial burden is squeezing towns that are already struggling to balance their budgets.  The much needed relief provided by FEMA will lighten the load of residents and town officials in the long grueling road to recovery,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

I commend the Patrick Administration for pursuing the inclusion of Southbridge and Sturbridge in FEMA’s Major Disaster Declaration in the aftermath of the June 1st tornadoes,” said Senator Richard T. Moore.  “FEMA’s amendment is entirely appropriate, and paves the way for much needed public assistance for those costs occurred with the initial response, and the subsequent and ongoing clean-up efforts.  Considering the state of fiscal affairs locally, and the severity of damage sustained by these towns in particular, federal relief will help with financial restoration, and most importantly, community recovery.”

“These towns in Worcester County, in addition to our neighbors further west, have incurred enormous costs in their efforts to restore some semblance of normalcy to their citizens after the June 1st tragedy,” said Representative Peter Durant.  “I’m thrilled that FEMA will provide the additional funding that our towns desperately need after this tornado increased the pressure that shrinking resources have already put on local budgets.”

“This is excellent news for the Town of Sturbridge,” said Representative Todd Smola.  “The community has come together and worked hard to overcome the obstacles left behind from the June 1st tornadoes, however, those families directly affected by the disaster have faced extreme financial burdens.  The additional funds that will be available by this decision will bring immense relief to many members of the community, and I thank all those who lobbied on behalf of the Town of Sturbridge to qualify for this relief.”

Under FEMA’s ‘Public Assistance’ program, affected local governments, many private non-profit organizations and state agencies are eligible to apply for federal funds to be reimbursed for not less than a 75 percent federal share of storm-related overtime costs for emergency response, debris removal, and repair, restoration and/or reconstruction of public facilities and infrastructure damaged by the storm.

Procedures for requesting ‘Public Assistance’ program funds will be explained at applicant briefings for local officials in Southbridge and Sturbridge at locations to be announced shortly by Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These briefings will explain the reimbursement process for receiving federal funds for eligible expenses incurred by local and state governments, as well as eligible non-profit organizations for infrastructure damage and eligible overtime costs.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man-made.

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