Southbridge, Sturbridge eligible for FEMA tornado aid
BOSTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Major Disaster Declaration for Massachusetts has been amended to include Southbridge and Sturbridge for public assistance.
On June 15, President Barack Obama issued a major disaster declaration for Massachusetts, triggering the release of federal funds to help individuals and communities in Hampden County (which includes Brimfield but not Southbridge or Sturbridge) recover from the severe storms and tornadoes, which occurred on June 1.
Today, this disaster declaration was amended to include Southbridge and Sturbridge in Worcester County. Assistance includes individuals and households, as well as public assistance (for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities).
Sturbridge Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski praised the work of Sen. Kerry, Congressman Neal, state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre. and state Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer, as well as his municipal staff and town elected officials' efforts to help make this happen.
“The amended declaration is without doubt a direct result of the work of our elected legislators as the revised damage estimates had not even been finalized by FEMA as of yet,” Mr. Suhoski said.
Mr. Suhoski said there will be a meeting for staff with FEMA and MEMA next week to discuss paperwork and eligibility.
“At the very minimum, this news will allow for roughly $75,000 in reimbursement for the first 70 hours of contracted tree removal,” Mr. Suhoski said.
In a prepared statement from the office of U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., the lawmaker said, “When I walked through Springfield, Southbridge and Sturbridge hours and days after the tornado, it was hard to believe I was still in Massachusetts. It looked like a war zone. We all promised then 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.”
“FEMA's Craig Fugate had a good conversation this week with me and Richie Neal (U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield) about the importance of leveraging every resource. I'm grateful to President Obama for listening and delivering for Massachusetts,” Mr. Kerry said.