A Springfield Massachusetts couple is having a heartwarming, yet bittersweet, homecoming this Thanksgiving. They are finally moving back to the home that was nearly destroyed in the June 1, 2011 tornado. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports
The tornado caused major damage to the ranch style home of Terry Humphries and his wife MaryAnn Carroll. More than a dozen trees came crashing down, leaving holes in the roof. Then things got worse.
Their original contractor ripped them off for $48,000, leaving the home still uninhabitable. Humphries, a Vietnam veteran with health problems attributed to Agent Orange began treatment for leukemia. He was forced to retire from his teaching job. Medical bills, housing and other expenses piled up.
The people Humphries is talking about are members of Springfield Community Together. It’s the tornado long term recovery group comprised of representatives from 16 faith based, community and professional organizations. It exists to address unmet needs for people like Terry Humphries and his wife who have done all the right things, but still need help.
Springfield Community Together organized two volunteer workdays to clear debris from the couple’s yard. They helped access $55,000 from the Massachusetts Disaster Fund, and a $15,000 state grant. The organization hired Adrian Construction Company to finish the home repair work. Adrian McCray did the job for a 20 percent discount.
There was a homecoming celebration a few days before Thanksgiving.
MaryAnn Carroll said she wanted nothing more than to have their home repaired so that her terminally ill sister can move in and spend her final days with family.
The tornado long term recovery group has helped more than 200 Springfield families in the last year and half. Pastor Tracy Johnson of Christ Presbyterian Church, a member of the recovery organization’s board, says they need to raise $150,000 to keep their staff of five caseworkers and construction specialists on the job through May.
People interested in donating, or volunteering for a rebuilding or debris clean up project should visit the website www.springfieldcommunitytogether.com