WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Many volunteer agencies will continue to help those affected by the June 1 tornadoes and Tropical Storm Irene from August 27 to 29 in Massachusetts long after state and federal government disaster agencies have departed.
“Just because the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s registration period for assistance has ended doesn’t mean everything is back to normal,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz, Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “Many of these volunteer agencies that were the first on the scene with a helping hand will continue to help storm victims as long as the need exists.”
Federal and state officials want to assure those still in need of recovery assistance that some form of help will continue to be available.
“As federal and state recovery efforts wind down, it’s important for residents in the western part of the Commonwealth to realize they are not being abandoned,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark H. Landry. “Affected residents in the four declared counties may still call FEMA’s Helpline for answers to their questions about disaster assistance, or to locate contact information for the appropriate volunteer agencies. Help continues to be available by phone and internet even though the registration deadline has passed.”
The number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362); for individuals with speech and hearing disabilities, the TTY number is 1-800-462-7585. For Internet help, go to www.disasterassistance.gov.
“Immediately after each of these two disasters struck, volunteers from across the country and state as well as those in local communities were helping residents and communities in a variety of ways,” said Schwartz. “Though not as visible today, these efforts still continue and will do so for some time to come.”
Most of the assisting agencies are members of Massachusetts Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (MAVOAD), a cooperative organization of volunteer relief efforts that stresses communication and collaboration. MAVOAD includes more than 30 volunteer agencies providing a wide array of disaster relief services.
Local Committees Spearhead Long-Term Recovery
“There are three Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) now working with tornado survivors on a case-by-case basis in specific areas throughout the declared counties, and one LTRG working with individuals affected by the late August flooding” said Arlene Magoon, Voluntary Agency Liaison for FEMA Region 1. “These groups are presently working with more than 800 identified cases and are helping them on their journeys back to recovery.”
LTRGs can only provide what they have. In order to assist those in need, they in turn need to have money and supplies to help these survivors. Donations are readily accepted by the groups and organizations that are part of an LTRG so that they can continue to carry out their missions of hope and help for those still in need.
Massachusetts Long-Term Recovery Groups helping June 1 tornado survivors
Springfield Community Together
Moderator: Portia Allen
Tel. #: 413-296-1052
(serving Agawam, West Springfield and Westfield)
Moderator: Pastor Gareth Flannery
Tel. #: 413-297-1286
Pathway To Renewal
(serving Brimfield, Charlton, Monson,Southbridge, Sturbridge and Wilbraham)
Moderator: Pastor Ian Lynch, United Church of Christ