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Cleanup costs total in the millions

Date: 8/23/2011

Aug. 22, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — Expenses surrounding the cleanup of of Wilbraham in the wake of the June 1 tornado and July 26 microburst that struck the town will be in the millions of dollars.

Town Administrator Robert Weitz told Reminder Publications that the cost of the rehabilitation of the town and repair of damage from the two storms could be as much as $5 million.

The tornado caused widespread damage from the Springfield border through the Tinkham Road and Main Street areas before heading east into Monson. The Ames Road area of Hampden was also struck.

Cleanup from that violent whirlwind required the majority of the money spent between the two storms.

“For the June 1 tornado, we’re expecting expenses to be somewhere between $4 and $4.5 million,” he said. “We don’t have an exact number yet because we’re still expecting some bills to come in, but that’s what we are estimating right now.”

Weitz noted that the town is eligible for financial assistance through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He did not, however, know how long it would take for those entities to determine how much aid Wilbraham will receive or when it will receive it.

“There really isn’t a timetable,” he said. “We’ve dealt with this before. Usually it’s for snow storms, but it’s the same process and it’s always different. It varies from storm to storm.”

Damage from the microburst was not as widespread with the concentration of the damage around the intersection of Springfield Street and Stony Hill Road and required far less funding to clean up. Still, the storm could cost the town $500,000 or more and most of that money will most likely not be reimbursed by either the state or federal government.

“We believe those costs will be somewhere around a half a million,” Weitz said. “We are at $343,000 right now and we still have a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of waterway cleanup to do because of the flooding that occurred during that storm.”

Board of Selectmen chair Patrick Brady had told Reminder Publications that the town was able to leverage a current contract the state had with Northern Tree Service in order to facilitate the speedy response to the town’s cleanup needs after the microburst.

The Department of Public Works also kept extended hours at the Disposal and Recycling Center to help residents with debris disposal.

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