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FEMA, MEMA deny Hampden aid

Date: 7/18/2011

July 18, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN — With more than a month gone by and numerous phone calls made and letters mailed by the Board of Selectmen, the town of Hampden has yet to receive aid of any kind from either state or federal entities in response to the June 1 tornado.

Sections of the town experienced damage, primarily tree and minor property damage as a result of the storm, which sideswiped the community on its way through Wilbraham and Monson.

However, the town’s requests to Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help have been met with messages of regret.

“[MEMA and FEMA] have never committed any money to us,” Selectman Richard Green said.

According to Green, the Board of Selectmen has been repeatedly informed by both emergency response agencies that other communities possess a greater need for services.

“They have been very polite, but also very candid,” Green said. “They understand that this is an important issue for our residents, but the first question they always ask is what kind of damage there is to structures and the reality of the answer to that question for us is we have no uninhabitable structures.”

Green added that neither agency has been seen in the town in any fashion.

“Quite frankly, they haven’t done much of anything in terms of following up with us either. They have not even sent out any assessment teams,” he said. “I was actually politely rebuffed when I made a request for an assessment team.”

The efforts to get monetary support for the town’s cleanup will not stop, however, Green said. The town is currently talking with State Sen. Gale Candaras and State Rep. Brian Ashe in an attempt to garner money from the state, while the United States Department of Agriculture has also been contacted to aid residents.

Green lauded the community for rallying and cleaning up many roadways and areas of damaged property themselves.

“Many residents cleared the roads themselves before the highway department could even get to them,” Green said. “Our crews were out there, but we were very concerned about power lines. The residents did a great job and took it upon themselves to bite the bullet and work right through the night. They did a fantastic job.”

A message left for MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz was not returned as of press time.

Susanna Marking from the FEMA News Desk did not specifically answer whether or not Hampden has been awarded any monetary aid, only referring Reminder Publications to the public declaration stating that public assistance federal funding would be made available to affected individuals in Hampden County.

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