Experienced disaster response volunteers are canvassing the tornado devastated neighborhoods of Springfield Massachusetts to conduct a needs assessment. Local organizations will use the collected information to help people still struggling to recover from the storm. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
A team of 20 volunteers from a faith based organization, all dressed in green shirts, are going door to door and staffing walk-in centers to interview people to find out what help they still need 10 months after the natural disaster struck. Nancy Groothuis of Michigan, is a team leader of the volunteers from the Christian Reformed Worldwide Relief Committee. She’s done this work for a dozen years at natural disasters all over the country.
Groothuis says they’re finding a large number of people with tree debris on their property that they can’t afford to have hauled away. And there are houses, still ,with leaking roofs and broken windows.
The information from the interviews conducted by the volunteers will go into a data base, which will be shared with Springfield Community Together. It is the FEMA organized long term recovery group made up of representatives from more than a dozen community, non-profits and faith based organizations. Its funded by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
Board member Stephen Abdow, says the needs assessment, which the long term recovery group commissioned will include an estimate of how much it will cost to complete the clean up and repairs.
Abdow said the formal needs assessment will make it possible for the long term recovery group to apply for a share of the funds that the United Way, and other charities still hold for western Massachusetts tornado relief.
Charles Holly hopes to get help to repair the damage the tornado did to the two family house where he lives in Springfield’s Maple High neighborhood.
Holly talked with the disaster assessment team volunteers at a walk in center at Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield.
The field work for the needs assessment is expected to wrap up in a few days.