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Residents should see tornado relief funds soon

Date: 12/5/2011

Dec. 5, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — The Wilbraham Tornado Victims Relief Fund Oversight Committee has finished its work and those whose applications that were approved should expect checks in the mail before the holidays.

“We set a goal to have the checks out before Christmas, David Barry, chair of the oversight committee, told the Board of Selectmen at its Nov. 28 meeting. “A list of qualifying applications and the amounts each will receive is now being prepared and within the next several days, the treasurer should be writing those checks and preparing them for mailing.”

Shortly after the June 1 tornado, Monson Savings Bank created an account and acted as the depository for donations for those whose homes and other property were damaged or destroyed by the storm. A total of $92,396 was raised.

Barry told the Selectmen that of the 59 applications the oversight committee received, only one failed to qualify for some level of funding. While the committee, consisting of Barry, Lee Miner, Brian Tracy and town liaison Paula Dubord, realized it would not be able to fully replace all that was lost, Barry said the goal was to help applicants recover as much as they could.

“There were three major areas of loss the committee focused on. These were the uncompensated damages to home and cars and the cost of tree removal,” Barry said. “From the applications we received, we identified a total of some $250,000 of these losses.”

Early in the decision-making process, Barry explained, the committee elected to give $1,000 to property owners whose homes were deemed unlivable by Building Inspector Lance Trevallion. Payments of $500 were awarded to those whose homes were deemed “uninhabitable until necessary repairs were made.”

Of the 59 applications, 33 qualified under one of these two categories, leaving approximately $73,000 remaining. The committee then divided the remaining sum through a fixed percentage of out of pocket expenses claimed by the applicants.

Barry added that all names and addresses were redacted from the copies of the applications that were reviewed by the committee “so each would be treated fairly and equitably.”

Selectman James Thompson thanked Barry and the committee for their work and commended them for their service to the community.

“Also, I think it should be noted that people I talked to said they made donations not only because they wanted to help the community, but because they were very comfortable with [Barry, Miner and Tracy] there overseeing this,” he said.

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