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Rebuilding Together Springfield launches tornado effort

Date: 9/28/2011

Sept. 28, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Annie Johnson was at home on June 1 watching the television news coverage of the tornado as it crossed the Connecticut River. She never thought it would hit her home on Eastern Avenue — much less so hard it would be condemned.

This weekend, though, Johnson’s reconstruction of her home will be getting a welcomed boost. She will be one of the 25 property owners selected for help through Rebuilding Together Springfield’s “Rebuilding 25 Homes in Five Days” effort.

From Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, the group, which is known for its campaign every April for rebuilding 15 homes, will help fulfill the unmet needs of 25 homeowners who were under-insured and did not get all the assistance they needed from state or federal sources, according to Rebuilding Together Springfield Executive Director Colleen Loveless.

The non-profit organization is seeking trained labor, materials and financial donations. The group has a goal of raising $200,000 for the effort, she explained, and has attained $140,00 so far.

At a press event on Sept. 26, Thomas Burton, president of Hampden Bank made a $10,000 contribution from the bank’s charitable foundation.

Other major donors included TD Bank, United Bank, the United Way of the Pioneer Valley, and the Community Foundation, Loveless said.

She noted the work being undertaken runs the gamut of skilled home repairs and reconstruction to the clearing of debris.

At Johnson’s home, removal of debris from her yard will be the focus. She has begun the work to rebuild her home and said that within the three or four minutes the storm was in her neighborhood, walls were blown out and ceilings crashed down.

Johnson said, “I can’t say enough of Rebuilding Together. They have been one of my supports.”

Johnson hopes the repairs to her home will be done by the holidays.

“That’s what I want for Christmas present this year,” she said with a smile.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the effort, go to or mail a check to Rebuilding Together Springfield, 1145 Main St., Suite 111, Springfield, MA, 01103.

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