FEMA AND DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD REACH $38 MILLION AGREEMENT ON CATHEDRAL HIGH SCHOOL AND ST. MICHAEL'S ACADEMY RECOVERY
(SPRINGFIELD, MA) Congressman Richard E. Neal, Bishop Timothy McDonnell, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Paul F. Ford today announced a funding agreement on the recovery in Springfield that includes replacement of Cathedral High School and St. Michael's Academy on Surrey Road. These facilities were severely damaged during the 2011 tornado. As a result of an innovative federal pilot program, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Diocese of Springfield and FEMA have agreed to fixed estimates of federal funds to supplement the Diocese's nearly $60 million insurance proceeds received last year. The federal grants are made under the provisions of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA) Alternative Procedures. The pilot program was authorized by Congress through an innovative change to the Stafford Act aimed at improving the speed and effectiveness of recovery while reducing administrative costs.
The final fixed estimate for the two projects total $29,428,184 of which FEMA will provide 75% of the funding, with the balance coming from the Diocese. The funding, which comes with flexibility of use, will assist with the demolition of existing buildings, abatement of hazardous material, site preparation and replacement of the damaged facilities. In addition, FEMA will provide funding through a series of smaller grants totaling approximately $ 9 million to reimburse the Diocese for a range of assistance including contents and equipment, emergency site safety, security work and temporary facilities that the schools will need until the new facilities are completed. FEMA will also provide 75% of this grant, with the Diocese responsible for the balance. This tailored recovery package is a unique collaboration of federal, state and Diocese stakeholders over the last five months since the Diocese insurance claim was settled.
"As I have said before, in crisis there is opportunity. When the tornado damaged Cathedral High School and St. Michael's Academy more than two years ago, I pledged to seek as much federal assistance necessary to rebuild these iconic schools. With today's announcement, I believe we kept our word delivered on that promise. The history of Springfield and Cathedral are intertwined, and it is hard to imagine one without the other. The $38 million in FEMA assistance means that Cathedral will be here for generations to come,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"I am grateful to Congressman Neal for the support and encouragement he provided during this long process and for his own patience in seeing it through. I am grateful to all those who worked on behalf of the diocese to achieve this federal recovery assistance, meeting day in and day out so that we might reach a satisfactory conclusion. I'm grateful to all those who were patient with us and never lost hope. I am grateful to all who persisted with us, to all who helped in the negotiations, to the FEMA staff, and particularly to the St. Michael's Academy and Cathedral High School families who stood with us throughout and had the patience to wait, " said Bishop Timothy McDonnell.
"Cathedral has had a storied history here in the City of Springfield and more specifically here in East Forest Park. My administration has worked closely with Congressman Richard E. Neal and Bishop Timothy McDonnell to make sure that the Cathedral tradition continues. With this significant award from FEMA, and the recently launched endowment fund, Cathedral is on the way back. Thank you to Congressman Neal and Bishop McDonnell for their work on this, and to the students, faculty, and residents of East Forest Park, thank you for your patience and resiliency, " said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.
"FEMA Administrator Craig W. Fugate has provided me with a clear message. Assisting our local communities in getting our schools operational after a disaster is an important FEMA mission and it is vital to the robust recovery of a community. I am so impressed with the collaborative effort with our federal, state and local partners and I am particularly pleased that we were able to establish temporary school locations as we worked on this complicated, long-term recovery plan which will provide state-of-the art educational facilities for the region," said Paul F. Ford, Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 1.