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FEMA approves $1.9M in tornado reimbursement

Date: 12/14/2011

Dec. 12, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released nearly $2 million in reimbursement funds for the town of Wilbraham, but it will be a bit longer before the town has any cash in-hand.

Board of Selectmen Chair Patrick Brady told Reminder Publications that there is another step in the process that must be fulfilled before the town will receive $1.9 million in federal reimbursement for costs accrued in the clean-up following the June 1 tornado.

“The way the process works is FEMA will notify MEMA, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, that Wilbraham has properly completed the paperwork and is eligible for $1.9 million in reimbursement,” he said. “From there, MEMA will send the town paperwork in order to authorize the electronic deposit into the town’s account.”

Brady warned that the process most likely would not be completed until after the end of the year.

“The last time we went through this, it took about three weeks to get the money into the town account,” he said. “We expect it will be here sometime shortly after the first of the year [2012] and it may take a little bit longer with the holidays.”

Town Administrator Robert Wietz told Reminder Publications in an earlier interview that the town had spent roughly $4.5 million on clean-up following the tornado. FEMA’s payment will reimburse roughly 42 percent of that cost.

Brady said that while people may be thinking that FEMA should be reimbursing the town 75 percent of the $4.5 million spent, they must remember that not all clean-up measures are reimbursable.

“It’s not just 75 percent. It’s 75 percent of eligible cost for one batch of clean-up expenses,” he said. “It’s important to understand that FEMA reimbursement includes only what meets their qualifying standards.”

While the money helps, Brady admitted the town still faces an uphill battle in recovering financially from multiple storms in 2011.

“It’s been a long and arduous journey,” he said. “The town has spend roughly $10 million on storm related debris cleanup this year.”

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