More tornado relief coming to Springfield neighborhood - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

More tornado relief coming to Springfield neighborhood

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It has been three years since an EF3 tornado cut through the city of Springfield.

That includes years of rebuilding, replanting, and renewing each neighborhood that was torn apart by the path of the storm.

"It's hard to describe what our neighborhood looked like after. The trees were down along with the power lines. It's hard to describe what our neighborhood looked like after," resident Michele David said. 

"I think now after all the houses are rebuilt, everything looks great," David continued. 

But there is still one more eyesore that stands as a grim reminder of that frightful June afternoon.

Several dead trees linger over Springfield's East Forest Park neighborhood.

"They don't belong in this nice neighborhood," resident Julie Andruszkiewicz said.

Now, with the help of city funds, the trees will finally come down.

"It is the last step in the rebuilding of our neighborhood," David said. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied several attempts by the city to seek federal assistance to remove the trees, leaving the residents to foot the bill.

However, residents said after rebuilding their homes, their insurance policies were maxed out and fixing the trees was a cost they could not afford.

"Removing the trees was just too expensive, but we dug in our heels and said, 'let's get the neighborhood back to where it was,'" Andruszkiewicz said.

Neighbors did not give up. They continued to write letters and make calls to officials to make sure their concerns over the trees were heard, and that they were.

Mayor Domenic Sarno has established a $100,000 fund through fiscal year 2015 budget to address the challenge of tree removal.  

"In my head, my heart and my gut it was difficult to say no FEMA won't allow us to do it. We needed to do it," Sarno said. 

Getting the proper funding was a project that was also spear-headed but Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.

"This is the last step to make some of these people feel whole again," Williams said.

The city will take applications over the next 60 days. Residents applying to have tornado-ravaged trees removed from their property will need to the following procedures:

  • Applications previously collected will be honored and field technicians will schedule a field visit with homeowners. Right of Entry work will be capped at $2,500 per household. Trees need to be considered a hazard to houses and a hazard in future storm damage.
  • Applications can be obtained from the city web site or by calling 311 from a land line or (413) 736-3111 from a cell phone or from outside the city.
  • Residents will provide proof of ownership, current copy of deed and insurance policy in effect at the time of the tornado.
  • Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed within 30 days and field visits will be coordinated with the homeowner. 
  • Residents will be scheduled for removals during August and September.  Homeowners will have the responsibility to provide access to the site; i.e.: remove fences and obstructions for access. 

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