|Patrick Calls for 'Swift' Response for Spruces Residents|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:38PM / Thursday, September 01, 2011
Updated September 2, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Displaced residents from the Spruces Mobile Home Park will spend at least this weekend away from home because electricity still has not been turned on.
According to park manager Richard Purcelli, the electrical system has been inspected by an electrician who reported that the system is relatively in tact. However, the park owners, Morgan Management, are waiting on a ruling from Building Inspector Mike Card on the extent of repairs needed for the park to pass inspection.
Purcelli said the management is still operating as if the park will be reopened soon and allowing residents to clean their homes during daylight hours. Nearly all of the residents were cleaning their homes on Friday after Morgan Management provided dumpsters for residents to throw out damaged items. At night the park is being patrolled by a security company.
A team of cleaners hired by Morgan Management are expected to begin cleaning the park's ground on Tuesday, Purcelli said.
Also as of Friday afternoon there has been no word from the federal government about whether the county qualifies for federal assistance, which Gov. Deval Patrick said on Thursday he expected to be approved on Friday morning. State Emergency Management Agency officials were still tallying dollar figures on Friday that would go toward that application.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Gov. Deval Patrick is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Morgan Management to "step up" to get residents of the Spruces back into their homes.
Gov. Deval Patrick toured the Spruces Mobile Home Park and the disaster assistance center at the school. He was joined by Sen. Benjamin B. Downing and Rep. Gailanne Cariddi. Below, flooding the day of the storm.
Northern Berkshire Youth Hockey League will be running "Skaters for Spruces" fundraiser raffles at Walmart and Stop & Shop in North Adams. All monies raised will be distributed as gift cards or certificates through 1st Congregational Church in Williamstown. Local businesses have donated prizes and money on short notice. To donate a raffle prize or money, contact Paula Cadrett at 413-822-7196.
United Uniforms, Village Ambulance Service of Williamstown and Pittsfield Fire Department will be collecting cash donations on Saturday and Sunday at the Dunkin' Donuts at 18 First St., 84 Dalton Ave., 480 West Housatonic St., in Pittsfield. Contact Shawn Godfrey with Village Ambulance Service to make a donation at 413-884-5729 or email@example.com.
MEMA Disaster Relief Fund
Spruces Tenants Association
c/o South Adams Savings Bank
273 Main St.
Williamstown, MA 01267
"We will be applying today for individual disaster assistance from FEMA," Patrick said. "The most important thing for the residents and the community to know that we are — all of us, from every resource — doing everything we can to pay attention to them."
The governor toured the mobile home park and the towns of Hawley and Heath on Thursday to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. Patrick is confident that the county has exceeded the $8 million threshold for federal assistance and that Congress will agree to deploy additional funds.
"It would be a very, very sad day if elected officials in the federal government chose now not to step up and do right by the people of Massachusetts," Patrick said. "I think FEMA will step up. I think they understand their responsibility."
The state has already deployed its Emergency Management Agency to establish a disaster assistance center at the elementary school that links residents to state resources and a team of state building inspectors swarmed the park on Wednesday to inspect every unit.
The four people who were living in Town Hall since the storm have been moved to a local hotel with vouchers that were provided by First Congregational Church. The Red Cross is still on scene and operating a shelter at St. John's Episcopal Church.
"All units were inspected by 4 p.m.," Town Manager and Emergency Management Director Peter Fohlin said. "Our authority has been exhausted."
The town has now stepped aside and it is up to the residents and the park owners to bring the property up to code before it can be re-occupied. Six homes in the senior community were determined to be too unsafe to enter without proper escorts but that does not mean that the mobile homes are unfixable. FEMA funds could become available for residents to repair their homes.
As for Morgan Management, its part in getting the park operational is expected to be completed by Thursday night. According to Lance Chavin, an attorney representing the park owners, utilities are close to being connected. The water system has not suffered damage but gas and electricity has not yet been turned on. At about noon on Thursday, electricians were on site appraising and repairing the system so it could be turned on, he said.
Carol DeMayo showed Patrick pictures of her farm that was also damaged by Hurricane Irene.
"We have to make sure the electricity for the park is operational," Chavin said. "We are trying to get this back to normal as quick as possible."
Morgan Management has been criticized by park residents because other than the Spruces managers, company officials have not been at the park or talking the residents. Morgan leases the lots; the residents own the mobile homes.
Rumors have been circulating that the company was going to sell the park or that the mobile homes would be condemned and bulldozed. Chavin gave no indication that the park would close but rather seemed very positive about its reopening.
Chavin said Dumpsters have been arranged to arrive at the park on Friday for residents to discard damaged material and a street sweeper has been contracted to clean the roads. Getting the utilities back on and cleaning initiated is the extent of the park's responsibilities.
Morgan Management is still not allowing people to move into their homes until the electricity is on and any repairs required by the town are made. A security company has been hired to watch the property at night and residents can continue to make arrangements to be escorted onto the property with the park managers.
Most of the elderly residents are worried about the costs of fixing up their homes and do not have flood insurance.
Patrick suggested to Cynthia Clermont-Rebello, president of the park's tenant association, that the association get space in the disaster assistance center.
"In some cases, homes have been completely destroyed," Patrick said. "They're worried about how they will put their lives back together."
Patrick called on the federal government to provide a "swift" response in helping the residents. However, FEMA funds also will be spread out into New York and Vermont, which faced even more destruction than Berkshire County. And there's no telling how much the state could get or when since FEMA has $800 million on hand for a disaster that's caused from $2 to $7 billion in damages.
It's not just the Spruces that will be eligible for funds. At Town Hall, Carol DeMayo gave Patrick photos of her farm, where the storm caused what she estimates at about $56,000 in damages.
"We have to take care of the Spruces first," DeMayo told the governor. "But there are more people like us, who are trying to do it on our own."
|Spruces Status 09-01-11 Each of the homes were inspected as of Wednesday night and given a color. The color is relative to the condition of the home. Black is off-limits and too dangerous to be entered; red is unsafe and may be entered at own risk with an escort; yellow is restricted use and should only be entered during hours specified by park management.