Disaster Teams Assess Damage In W. Mass.

Federal and state disaster teams are on the ground in western Massachusetts assessing damage from last week's tornadoes to determine whether the region is eligible for federal disaster aid.

Peter Judge, spokesman for the state Emergency Management Agency, says a total of nine teams are in the greater Springfield area on Monday, five of which are looking at infrastructure, including roads, bridges and buildings, while four teams are looking at homes and businesses.

The teams are trying to determine whether the state has reached the threshold of $8.3 million in uninsured losses to qualify for federal aid.

"We've got building inspectors, we've got folks from the American Red Cross, etc., who are going out into the communities and doing the first real serious, 'Lets put some dollar signs to the damage' type of assessment," Judge said.

Meanwhile, life is returning to normal. Schools reopened in Springfield on Monday, with the exception of two elementary schools that sustained too much damage. Students from those schools have been relocated.

The Red Cross is tending to more than 350 people at an emergency shelter in downtown Springfield, according to spokeswoman Melanie McDonough.

"The outpouring of the community has just been amazing," McDonough said. "I know there have been a lot of spontaneous volunteers and they have processed a lot of applications."

With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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This program aired on June 6, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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