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Neal, Kerry, Brown Announce Critical Funding to Help Western Mass. Rebuild

January 4, 2012
In The News

January 4, 2012

BOSTON – Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown and Congressman Richard E. Neal today announced that the Elias Brookings School in Springfield will receive $2.1 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to install temporary classroom facilities at the tornado-damaged Elias Brookings School while the original buildings are being repaired.

“This money will support critical rebuilding for our students in Springfield after the destruction of last summer’s devastating tornadoes.  Walking those streets a few hours after the tornadoes cut their path through the area, I saw what looked like a war zone.  I spoke to a lot of people even that night who worried that western Massachusetts would be forgotten when the destruction faded from public view.  We refused to let that happen and as we start 2012 we have to stay laser-focused on the rebuilding.  Today’s grant helps and more will be on the way if we all keep our shoulders to the wheel,” said Sen. Kerry.   

“It is difficult to forget the scene of destruction at the Elias Brookings School following last summer’s tornadoes. Fortunately, the important work of educating our children continued despite the difficult conditions. I am pleased that this federal grant will help to pay for the temporary classrooms that students and teachers have used during the rebuilding effort,” said Sen. Brown.

“The $2.1 million announced today is another installment from the federal government to help the City of Springfield rebuild and recover from the unprecedented tornadoes last year. It is being used to provide temporary classroom space for children in our public school system. Our work is not finished, and it is my expectation that the city can expect more reimbursements from FEMA in the months ahead,” said Rep. Neal.  

On June 1, 2011, a tornado significantly damaged the Elias Brookings School making it unsafe and unusable until major repairs were made.  The balance of student classes were relocated and absorbed at a neighboring school through June 21, 2011, the end of school year.  Today’s funding will be used to install one large single story and one large two story building to be located behind the existing school building.

The tornadoes also tore down three schools in Springfield destroying books and forcing kids to relocate for the rest of the school year. Senator Kerry worked with the Springfield Superintendent's office to select books from the Library of Congress to be donated to the students and the now over-filled elementary schools.

Senator Kerry worked with the Massachusetts congressional delegation to secure a Presidential Disaster Declaration and bring federal dollars to affected families and businesses. In August, he introduced legislation to help victims by giving them a tax deduction for many of the costs of damage and cleanup.