Patrick Seeks Tornado Disaster Declaration

Gov. Deval Patrick has asked President Obama to declare a major disaster in tornado-ravaged portions of western and central Massachusetts.

Patrick formally filed the disaster request on Saturday for all of Hampden County and portions of Worcester County.

With nearly $24 million in damage, Hampden County appears relatively certain to receive federal aid, but what Washington's response for Worcester County, where damage was lighter and focused mostly in the communities of Sturbridge and Southbridge, is unclear.

Peter Judge, of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, says the government does occasionally award disaster relief if a state can show that communities were especially hard hit, even if a county doesn't meet base damage requirements.

"It's not uncalled for, and it wouldn't be the first time the federal government has looked at communities who are really strongly impacted," Judge said.

If approved, the major disaster declaration would provide local communities and state agencies with federal reimbursement for costs associated with infrastructure damage, debris removal and emergency response. It would also provide aid to homeowners and private business owners seeking to rebuild after the storms.

Judge says he expects a response some time in the next week.

State officials said Springfield and at least 17 other communities were impacted on June 1 by tornadoes and violent thunderstorms. Three people were killed and hundreds injured.

With reporting from The Associated Press and WBUR's Jack Lepiarz

This program aired on June 12, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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