Updated 10/23/2012 07:13 PM
Relief grants announced for tornado victims
Massachusetts communities that were hit by the tornado last year, are still recovering. The secretary for the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs stopped by West Springfield to announce a speed up of the rebuilding process. Our Berkshire County reporter, Madeleine Rivera, has more.
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Ma. -- For Lyn Arnold, the memories of the tornado last June are still fresh.
"It was the most devastating thing I've ever been through. It came down the street, we didn't have a chance to get to the basement," she said.
It's been a whirlwind of a year for residents getting back on their feet. The rebuilding and recovery process is still going on more than a year later. But, help from the state is now on its way.
West Springfield will receive three grants from the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Nearly $200,000 will come to the area to help clean up debris, plant new trees and help the fire department replace new equipment. West Springfield isn't the only place getting help. Nine other communities will split $4 million in state funding to continue to rebuild.
"In talking to the local elected officials, where quite honestly, they know best what the community needs to rebuild, we were able to help, really with the leadership of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, to bring the resources to the individual cities and towns and let them create an individual plan to help their individual communities rebuild," said Rick Sullivan, Secretary of EEA Office.
A lot of work has been done since the past year to clean up. But, residents say it's not finished. A lot of houses still need to be fixed, a lot of street signs still need to be fixed. And, while they say the grants will be helpful going forward, community cooperation is another key aspect. In fact, a lot of the clean up work done last year was by volunteers.
"It didn't matter who didn't care for whom on the street. It's devastation. We have to make sure everybody is okay," said Arnold.
Secretary Sullivan said they will monitor the progress that the city makes in the rebuilding process. Cities and towns have to report to the EEA Office to make sure the work has been done.