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Volunteers Still Tackling Tornado Recovery

  Some people will skip a trip to the beach this Labor Day weekend to labor in tornado damaged areas of Springfield Massachusetts.  An official with the city’s long term recovery group says there is still a lot to be done to help people struggling to rebuild from the June 2011 disaster.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

   For the second Labor Day Weekend in a row parishioners of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow Massachusetts, and other volunteers will be helping to reconstruct tornado ravaged Springfield. But  Rev. Peter Swarr says judging by the early registrations there won’t be as many volunteers as last year.

   Rev. Swarr said the need is still dire, pointing to an  assessment conducted  just shy of the one year anniversary of the tornado that found hundreds of homes in need of repairs totaling an estimated $1 million. The needs cataloged ranged from new furniture to new roofs.

   The volunteers who show up this weekend will do a variety of chores.

   Most of the people still in need of help to recover from the June 1, 2011 tornado had no insurance or not enough insurance and did not qualify for help  from any government program.   More than 200 of these cases were identified through last Spring’s needs assessment survey commissioned by  Springfield Community Together, the long term tornado  recovery group made up of representatives of community and faith based organizations.

   A total of more than 1,160 volunteer hours has been put into the rebuilding and recovery work so far, according to Steve Abdow, the treasurer for Springfield Community Together.

   The long term recovery group has also tapped into the hundreds of thousands of dollars people donated to tornado relief that wound up in  a fund managed by the United Way.

   Day to day operations of the long term recovery group are managed by a paid staff of four people who include a construction project specialist.

   People interested in volunteering for this weekend can simply show up at 8 AM Saturday at St Mark’s church at 1 Porter Road in East Longmeadow.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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