Masters of disaster
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Depending on Uncle Sam’s largess and the kindness of strangers
are just two of the life-altering changes facing communities hit by a major natural disaster. The Christian Science Monitor profiles the town
of Parkersburg, Iowa,
and finds “a model for tornado recovery
” for places like Monson
and the 19 other Massachusetts communities that tornadoes savaged two weeks ago.
Parkersburg made several decisions that helped the community get back on its feet quickly after being leveled by a mammoth EF-5 tornado, packing winds of more than 200 miles per hour, in 2008. Town officials decided to rebuild the high school right away. The high school served as an important community focal point because of the town’s pride in the school football team.
Parkersburg designated a volunteer point-person who basically worked full-time hours coordinating all the people who wanted to pitch in. FEMA
aid was instrumental. The federal government paid for 90 percent of the $6.6 million clean-up costs for the town of nearly 2000 people. The fact that most residents and business also had insurance to help pay for reconstruction costs also sped recovery.
Federal assistance, schools, and volunteers are also focal points in the Bay State. Gov. Deval Patrick
has made a formal request
for federal disaster assistance. (FEMA officials in Boston
are warning that Washington might take some time to decide where they stand on sending in the cavalry. The feds took almost three weeks before Joplin, Missouri,
the site of this spring’s most devastating tornado, got a declaration.)
Residents in the affected areas have already filed $90 million in insurance claims.
Springfield is moving to make sure that homeowners actually use those funds to repair or tear down their properties
The Archdiocese of Springfield
is looking for a temporary location
for Springfield’s Cathedral High School. The building sustained so much damage that it closed for the year and won’t be opening in the fall. With church officials considering a location outside Springfield, neighborhood residents worry about what might happen to one of the city’s “most stable neighborhoods
” if the school moves elsewhere.
Numerous groups are coordinating volunteers and dropping off supplies
. The Springfield Republican
spotlights the Salvation Army
effort: their volunteers showed up two hours after the tornadoes struck.
Communities can take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to return to normal after a major disaster, according Jack Rozdilsky, a Western Illinois University professor interviewed by the Monitor
. “What stands out in Parkersburg and what you can take away from them is the extent to which the recovery was very rapid,” he said. “They found a way to draw on their internal strength for the town’s recovery.”
Laura Sauriol, creator of the Monson Tornado Watch 2011
Facebook page, echoes that conclusion. “We are a strong community and I know we can get through this,” says the 17-year-old who set up the page during the storm
. It’s now being used to help organize recovery efforts. --GABRIELLE GURLEY BEACON HILL
A Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation
report says the Senate version of a municipal health care reform bill contains language that would negate much of the savings being sought, CommonWealth reports
. Newspaper editorials seem to favor the House approach. Here’s one
from the Eagle-Tribune
.The Cape Cod Times
looks at the stakes for the Mashpee Wampanoag
as the debate over casino legislation heats up.
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker offers
10 thoughts on campaigning.
The Patriot Ledger talks to p.r. poohbahs
about Braintree state Rep. Mark Cusack
’s radio silence after being caught in an empty House chamber with the female staffer of a colleague. Many Braintree officials defended the freshman lawmaker
as making an innocent mistake while Keller@Large
offers this is not the first State House romance
, although he doesn’t go all Inside Track on us by naming names. Cusack, who has not been in his office since news broke about the late night liaison, issued his “final,” which also happened to be his first, statement on the matter yesterday.
Former House speaker Sal DiMasi finds comfort
in a government salad bar. Joe DeNucci now thinks Guy Glodis
wasn’t so bad after all. Berkshire County
should remain in a single congressional district
says The Berkshire Eagle.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
Top Patrick budget aide Jay Gonzalez tells
the Lowell Sun
he is “very satisfied” with Lawrence’s fiscal picture.
Meanwhile, the Eagle-Tribune reports
that the ex-chief of staff to Mayor William Lantigua
appeared before a federal grand jury and his lawyer refused to say whether he was a witness or target of the investigation. Also seen at the courthouse were the former head of the Department of Public Works and a towing company owner.Marblehead
voters approve a override paving the way for a new scaled-back elementary school and a cap on a landfill, the Salem News reports
A Boston police officer
is recovering after being shot
responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Somehow, Framingham hasn’t spent $4.5 million in federal money
for downtown improvements it received more than a decade ago. Now that the feds want the money back, city officials are trying to figure out how make progress on some projects. Fast.Smokers
are falling on more hard times in Provincetown.NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
The National Review
picks up on presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty
’s call to privatize the US Postal Service
and says it can and should be done
, even though it concedes it wouldn’t really affect the budget or deficit one way or another.
bankruptcy judge cranks up the pressure
on the Defense of Marriage Act
House Democrats won’t punish Anthony Weiner
, but still hope he’ll slink out of the Capitol on his own. ELECTION 2012
The Weekly Standard
wonders what Mitt Romney
meant when he said American troops should not fight someone else’s war of independence
, an apparent contrast with his previous positions. But the Globe says
Romney is trying a new campaign approach this time: sticking with a position once he’s stated it. Following this week’s debate, Romney looks even more like the clear GOP frontrunner, but The New Republic reports
that right-wing Republicans
are gearing up for an all-out effort to deny him the nomination.The New Yorker
’s Ryan Lizza points out
just how much the current GOP field parts company with George W. Bush
, whether it’s the lack of any strong statements about terrorism not being part of the true practice of Islam, which favors peace, or the repudiation by Republican candidates at Monday’s debate of the Bush administration’s TARP program and other moves to head of an economic implosion.
Just look what happens
when Michele Bachmann
knows which camera
to speak into!BUSINESS/ECONOMY
WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer interviews Harris Freeman
, an associate professor at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, about his report on the state’s failure to protect low-wage workers
A new president
for Amherst College
city councillors criticize the city’s teachers
and The Berkshire Eagle
backs them up.HEALTH CARE
Massachusetts health care spending
outpaces the nation, new state report finds
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm
, who made clean energy a focus of her administration in trying to remake her state’s economy, tells Emily Rooney
even though she’s out of office, she will continue to keep the energy debate alive
officials have reached an agreement with the energy company Ameresco Inc.
to install solar panels at three city schools and the wastewater treatment plant
More trouble in Bourne
over a proposed wind development.The Cape Cod Times
talks to a nuclear expert about the risks
associated with the Pilgrim nuclear power plant.CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Radio Boston hosts a discussion
on the recruiting practices of for-profit colleges
and the high default rates of their students.MEDIA Paul Levy
is beating the “information wants to be free”
man managed to find all seven of his cats
and his old, blind goldfish alive after the tornado blasted through his home.