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Neighborhood marks anniversary of June 1 tornado

Date: 12/7/2011

Dec. 7, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Residents of the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood gathered on Dec. 1 to mark the six-month anniversary of the June 1 tornado that ripped through the area with a short candle light ceremony.

Resident Alicia Zoeller noted the neighborhood has “shown incredible resiliency, resurgence and pride” in cleaning up and rebuilding during the last six months.

City Councilor Melvin Edwards thanked the group of 20 people for coming out to note the day and declared, “We will rebuild this neighborhood.”

“I’m most proud you have not yet left,” he added.

The neighborhood has lost population due to the number of single family homes and apartment buildings that have been demolished.

Pastor Bruce Shaw, whose New Hope Pentecostal Church on Central Street suffered roof damage, led the group in prayer and said, “We hope we have a better future ahead of us.”

Resident Rosemary Morin announced there would be an effort to raise funding for a memorial plaque noting the June 1 tornado to be erected on the first anniversary.

Mayor Domenic Sarno attended the event and said of the tornado, “People thought it was time to turn of the lights off in Springfield and the exact opposite thing happened.”

After the ceremony Sarno met with the press and said the city has so far spent $23.6 million in cleanup and repairing infrastructure following the tornado and it would appear that reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might come soon. He anticipates receiving $16.4 million and said he is pushing the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to reimburse the rest of the expense.

Sarno said in frequent conversations with FEMA officials, “I did say, ‘Show me the money.’”

The city is facing additional expenses with the repair of two of its elementary schools, as well as clearing the debris from the South End Community Center and some possible action at the former Zanetti school site on Howard Street.

“I’m hoping to get back every dime,” Sarno said.

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