Tornado Relief organization update and Minutes

Dear Friends,
A lot of work has been done recently to better organize the utilization of volunteers and donations in disaster relief. We understand that some of you offered to volunteer and donate and weren’t gotten back to quickly. Your help will still be needed in long term recovery from the tornadoes.

After the tornadoes, roads were closed with National Guard troops to keep order while power and infrastructure were put back in place. Affected cities and towns were overly stressed and having difficulty utilizing local volunteers, never mind those from outer areas. Several Massachusetts VOAD organizations were already set up to help with their own members and volunteers and did so.

Usually, we wouldn’t post the Minutes of our monthly meetings, but the June 8th meeting Minutes are below as they outline the organization that has recently been put in place while giving you behind the scenes data you likely didn’t get from your news services.

To volunteer or donate, you would still call 211 and to donate toward the long term disaster relief efforts, you could donate to the new and official state Disaster Recovery website (hosted by United Way) at, call 888-811-3291 or donate to any Massachusetts VOAD member organization you wish.

Please read the information below as it relates to the future safety of the Massachusetts during times of disaster as well as the current relief efforts.
Kevin Hall (Secretary), Chris Farrand (Chair), Luis Matnog (Vice-Chair)

MAVOAD Minutes
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
1:30-3:30 PM
MEMA Bunker, 400 Worcester Road (Rte 9), Framingham


I. Welcome and Introductions
With 26 in the room and four more on the conference phone, this took longer than usual which is a good thing.

II. Working Group Updates and Results of Recruitment Drive
A. Community Preparedness and Outreach
1.Working Group Leaders: Luis Matnog
a. Kevin Hall (Church of Scientology), Luis Matnog (Red Cross) and Arlene Magoon (FEMA) discussed a plan of having Chris Farrand (Salvation Army) put together a one-page sheet on how and why to create COADs (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) and sending it to all the local Massachusetts Emergency Management Directors in order to have them organizing their local businesses and churches, etc. to help if disaster hits. It was also discussed how we could further promote COADs through the website and other means and could keep the groups organized by suggesting other activities like entertainment, neighborhood watches, etc. that would keep them active while no disasters were occurring. Kevin also invited those attending to become MA VOAD members if they were not already. After the meeting, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) applied for MA VOAD membership. A vote to approved them will occur next meeting.

2.Working Group Leaders: Kevin Hall, Arlene Magoon
Dana Hardtman (AmeriCorps/VISTA) and John McCaul (Able Restoration both offered to help create a VOAD video with its music and special effects, etc. in August. Kevin, Chris and Luis are going to meet to put the script together first. This will be a video, just under ½ hour for cable tv. It will discuss VOAD, the need for creation of VOADs and preparation for disaster.

III. Able Restoration, Inc. (John McCaul) was voted in as the first Associate Member of Massachusetts VOAD. After the meeting, a press release they can use for the media and a certificate were emailed to them by Kevin.

IV. Long Term Recovery Groups Updates on Finalizing Home Repairs.
Larry Rosenberg of the Northern Long Term Recovery group and Paula Farrales of the Southern LTRG gave updates. Larry hopes to finish all flood damage from last year by the end of the month. He had 180 cases and all but 6 are closed. Paula had 276 cases with 9 more to handle, including three new ones. She wanted to thank Self Help, Inc., Able Restoration, the Brockton Stop & Shop and Walgreens and the Providence Canteen for their great help.

V. Luis said that it is important for all MA VOAD members to take the FEMA IS250 (Independent Study 250) disaster relief training course in order to have a much greater understanding of disaster relief activities and what we, as a group, should be doing. It’s a free course on the FEMA site that takes about 2 hours to do.

VI. Arlene got with the United Way of Tri-County and set up a Massachusetts VOAD account within the United Way. This is a long term recovery account and done with the consent of Governor Deval Patrick to make this the official long term recovery account. Arlene also got approval on how the funds will be appropriated and how MA VOAD members will be part of the process. Doug Sparks (United Methodist) brought up how there’s already a standard format to decide who would be in need of the money in the account and Arlene agreed that it was true.

VII. A Massachusetts organizational chart with job descriptions for specific roles was voted in and is on the “About” section of This lays out the role of Massachusetts VOAD so members can more easily work to expand the organization without going through various committees and approval processes. The chart is in alignment with the committees of National VOAD and it can also be changed by vote at meetings if and whenever necessary in the future. Kevin asked that people review the organizational chart and job descriptions and offer to take on areas they feel interested and qualified in expanding.

VIII. Ben Hiltunen (MEMA) spoke on an upcoming MAVOAD tabletop exercise/timeline drill and also gave a tour of the MEMA Emergency Support Function (ESF) area that was activiated at the time, to anyone interested after the meeting at 3:30pm. Several went to see how MEMA coordinates its disaster response function.

IX. FEMA Updates. Katie Halladay (FEMA) said that the MA VOAD Resource Book is done and will be printed soon. There is also an electronic version to will go up on line and be linked to the MA VOAD website. This can be changed to add new future resources while the book won’t be updated for quite a while.

X. Other Business:
This was the longest section of the meeting, the final ½ hour wherein organizations briefed on their disaster relief actions since the tornadoes hit Western, MA. Coordination activities within different groups were also worked out as follows:

Bill Driscoll (All Hands) has agreed to organize an utilize the volunteers who offered to help through Mass 211, and the MEMA ESF 15 desk.

Red Cross Springfield (Joy Grahn) – Two shelters 363 in Mass. Mutual Civic Center and 90 at the Big E. Red Cross (as of June 8th) could use volunteers.

Bill Ames (Lutheran Social Services) said they were helping 67 in shelters including family members of one of the deceased from the storms. He said he has needs for housing, vehicles and windows (all damage by tornadoes) and clothes.

Wil Leslie (Salvation Army) said that they can handle means and clothing for victims and that they sit in daily meetings with the Springfield Mayor regarding what’s needed. was set up as an organized place where people can offer unsolicited donations and MA VOAD members can (and should) go onto to collect needed donations. The organizations can also post what they need from other MA VOAD organizations to make it easier to coordinate with each other. Gary Levit of MA 211 asked about clicking off when donations or requests for help are finished and Arlene said that it was part of the process.

Katie said that there’s now a one-stop Massachusetts tornado information site at .

Bill Driscoll said he was coordinating on helping people with their homes while they were in the shelters.

Victor Ying (Tzu Chi) said that his organization ( wants help in identifying families in need regarding tornado relief. They often give out $1,000 checks to the victims to help them out.

Arlene Magoon said that 235 houses were destroyed although the count should go up as more assessment of damage is done. Information is being put together by Massachusetts with a proposal from MEMA. Massachusetts has to be declared a national disaster due to the tornadoes in order to receive the funding. It’s based mainly on the amount of damage calculated although there are some other factors. She also said there’s a need now for temporary housing while homes are being repaired.

Bill of LSS said that some people are living in cars while others are displaced and living with families or friends. This is beyond the numbers in the shelters.

Joe Raviele (Greater Boston Food Bank) coordinated with Joy Grahn to get food to them and the CT food bank.

Shannon Walajtys (IFAW) and Rebecca Evanoff (Cert/Dart) reported that the animal shelters and veterinarians in Western, MA did a good job on sheltering pets until they could be reunited with their families.

Andre Gorenyi (Salvation Army) reported that the Salvation Army helped about 20,000 peole with food, water, clothes and spiritual counseling. This included going door to door to see what help was needed. The Red Cross reported that the Salvation Army was bringing racks of clothes to the shelters of displaced families.

Gary Lever (MA 211) said more data needs to get out on these good works that are being done.

Bill Driscoll wants to get with agencies in organizing efforts and volunteer help.

Bruce James (Southern Baptists) said they set up in Brimfield with 5 chain saw (that were cutting up fallen trees to help citizens at their homes with clean up), three damage assessment teams and 5 spiritual counseling teams. They have about 40 volunteers and feel that volunteer help through All Hands would help a lot in clearing debris.

Kevin said the ESF 15 (volunteer desk) was mainly handled by Paula Farrales (Red Cross), himself, two other Church of Scientology volunteers and a volunteer from Boston Cares. The ESF 18 desk was manned a little by Kevin and Paula but mostly by NEDTRIX members who raised a lot of money (including a $10,000 Boston Celtics donation and a pledge to match funds by fans). Tarps to cover roofs, water, and plywood were among the first donations to be gathered in through the ESF 15 and 18 desks. Among volunteers offering help were a couple of good sized construction companies with heavy equipment and an architect who wants to help design new housing.

Lora Grady of Corporation for National and Community Service said they are going to set up at Western Community College and will work on debris removal among other things.

Boston Cares said that they can do shelter care and Self Help, Inc. can help with housing people and getting them needed household appliances.

Commonwealth React said they would like to work with All Hands to keep communications in between groups.

Arlene inquired and found out that the individual organizations aren’t currently being overwhelmed with unsolicited donations that they don’t know how to warehouse.

The next MA VOAD meeting will be Wednesday, July 13th at the MEMA Bunker in Framingham. Please RSVP by July 11th to to let us know if you’ll be attending.


Chris Farrand (Chair), Luis Matnog (Vice-Chair) & Kevin Hall (Secretary

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Tornado Relief Update & Volunteers

To the many individuals, businesses and organizations who have offered to help with recovery from the recent tornadoes in Western Massachusetts, thank you very much. The amount of help offered has been very inspirational.

Many who have contacted Mass. VOAD have not been contacted back as of yet and those who have reached us have generally not be deployed yet. Your help is still needed and following is an explanation of what is happening to give you more understanding.

A couple VOAD agencies have set up shelters for those displaced from their damaged or destroyed homes. We have received donations of tarps to cover homes before they are further destroyed by rain and these are gojng up in great number. Water has been donated for those people cut off from the main water supply. Plywood is the next item we will be asking for.

To those who have donated heavily, thank you and we will acknowledge your work in the future when all data is put together. For individuals who want to help out, the Red Cross is going to start accepting volunteers Monday. They don’t accept organizational volunteers, just individuals.

Currently, there is a lot of assessment of damage being done so we can determine exactly what type of help is needed, in what quantity and where. This is necessary before we can put your offers of help to use. This includes those who have offered help by calling 211. The major work that will be needed will be long term recovery actions of repairing homes and businesses.

Again, thank you for your patience and willingness to help as we finalize our damage assessment actions and work on how to utilize as many offers for help as we possibly can.

Directors of Massachusetts VOAD

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Massachusetts Tornado Help – Call 211

Thank you to all who have contacted Massachusetts VOAD to help victims of yesterday’s tornadoes with donations and services.
Coordination of all help and donations is now running the United Way’s 211 service so please call 211
You may also donate to Mass. VOAD member organizations if you wish. They are linked under “organizations” on this web site.
Chris Farrand (Chair), Luis Matnog (Vice-Chair), Kevin Hall (Secretary)

Below is an update (June 2, 2011) on the Massachusetts Tornado situation from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Massachusetts Tornadoes, Wednesday, June 1, 2011

At around 4:30 EDT on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 a line of severe weather crossed from western part Massachusetts heading east. Damaging tornadoes passed through the Springfield area. A second tornado is reported to have later struck the same region. It was reported that hundreds of homes were damaged and thousands of trees were down.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency effective at 7:10PM on June 1. Nineteen (19) communities are reported affected including the towns of: Westfield, Springfield, West Springfield, Monson, Agawam, Charlton, Oxford, Palmer, Sturbridge, and Wilbraham, among others. The Governor has directed that all non-emergency Executive Branch employees living or working in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Counties should not report to their workplaces Thursday, June 2. In addition, 23 schools were closed and 21 businesses in the affected communities on Thursday.

The National Guard has called up approximately 1,000 troops to assist in rescue and response efforts. Troops are being dispersed from three locations, one in Springfield, one in Ware, and one in Worcester.

At least four people have died as a result of the tornado. One person was killed in West Springfield when his car overturned, two in Westfield, and one in Brimfield. Details of those 3 fatalities have not yet been released.

Jane Albert of Baystate Medical Center told 22News that the hospital is caring for 25 people who are injured, 10 of whom are in the trauma unit. There are at least 20 other reports of injuries.

In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno said that the South End, East Forest Park, and Sixteen Acres were the sections of the city that were hit the hardest. The Indian Orchard neighborhood also saw damage.

There was a total of more than 60,000 power outages in communities serviced by Western Massachusetts Electric Company. As of 8:49am Thursday, June 2, about 14,000 are still without power. Sandra Ahern from Western Massachusetts Electric Company reports that there are more than 80 utility poles down in the Sixteen Acres and East Forest Park neighborhoods, where she said that they do not anticipate power will be restored for a couple of days.

Voluntary Agency Efforts

Local volunteers are currently supporting relief efforts in Springfield and communities throughout the jurisdiction with sheltering, canteen and mental health counseling.

The American Red Cross reports 5 open shelters as of Thursday morning, with populations in each. Of the 5 shelters reported open, the Red Cross is managing 2 in Springfield, and 1 in Monson. In addition there are 2 Red Cross-supported shelters in collaboration with local emergency officials, and 1 community shelter that the Red Cross is looking to assist with. The Mass Mutual Center in Springfield reported approximately 400 people being sheltered at its height late Wednesday night, with approximately 200 people remaining this morning. There are approximately 45 people at the West Springfield location and 35 in Monson. Pet sheltering has not been set up at any of the shelters as of Thursday morning.

The Red Cross is supporting feeding efforts at the open shelters, in addition to feeding approximately 300 first responders at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, in collaboration with the Salvation Army, and approximately 150 first responders in Monson. The Red Cross is not engaged in mobile feeding at this time.

The Salvation Army has set up a canteen service at the Command Post in Westfield to support first responders, and a canteen is also stationed in Brimfield. Canteen drop offs are occurring in Monson. The Salvation Army is also supporting canteen efforts at the Basketball Hall of Fame in collaboration with the Red Cross. The Salvation Army is beginning mobile canteen services, driving around affected communities, and providing psychological first aid as of 10am Thursday morning. 11 volunteers are currently engaged in Salvation Army activities, with approximately 5 additional volunteers working in the kitchens to prepare meals. 2 facilities in Springfield are on standby as possible temporary shelters if needed.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In the aftermath of Wednesday’s tornado damage , several major Western Massachusetts roads are closed for the Thursday morning commute. Here is a list of some major roadways that are closed.


· Avoid downtown in general, South End; the less cars on the street the better for emergency crews working to assess threats (power lines, gas leaks) and remove obstructions (tree, debris)

Major closures:

· Plumtree Road from Allen Street onwards- impassible

· Main Street from State Street and southward

· Tinkham Road

· Parker Street from Wilbraham Road to Cooley Street

· Island Pond Road from Allen Street to Roosevelt Ave


· Union and Main run parallel- this is where the main impact occurred; basically the path of the tornado itself- this area is called the Merrick section of W. Spfld

· From Park and Union to Park and Main

· Union St. from Memorial Ave. to Park St.

· Main and Memorial

· All closed to all except emergency vehicles

· Police are essentially sealing off that entire area

· All obstructions are contained within that grid


· Shaker Road- closed from Little River Road to Cardinal Lane

· Shaker Road closed at Canal Drive when coming in from Tannery Road/Ponders Hollow

· Entire section of Pontoosic Road from Feeding Hills Road to Crescent Circle (nearly the entire run of this road in the city)


· Tinkham Road is closed from Stony Hill Road to Bolles Road

· Monson Road is blocked-off from Main Street to Ridge Road

· Main Street and Stony Hill Road are open, but you are asked to use extreme caution


· Just avoid the entire downtown area of Monson

· There was significant damage to police building


· Route 20 closed through the entire length of town

· Route 19 closed for the entire length of town

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How you can help with Tornado Relief in Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina

While helping in times of disaster, it is important to understand what type of help is needed and where. This also ensures that unnecessary donations do not go to waste or tie up storage facilities.

Your physical help and donations are needed in the recently tornado-stricken areas of Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina. Below are links Continue reading

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FEMA Tornado Response Update

Southern Storms: Overview Of Response And Support Efforts By Fema And The Federal Government

Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm eastern

*Since the deadly tornadoes first struck parts of the country last week, the federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms. At the request of Continue reading

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Relief for Flood Victims

Attleboro Sun Chronical
Sunday, April 17, 2011

NORTH ATTLEBORO – A “Day of Caring” that resonated throughout South Shore cities and towns on Saturday reached out to the Folan family.

The work at the Longview Drive home was part of a larger effort as a regional group of 100 volunteers affiliated with the Southern Massachusetts Long Term Recovery Group took time to fan out to make Continue reading

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After Floods of 2010, Some Local Homes Still Damaged

Brockton Enterprise
Marc Vasconcellos
April 10, 2011

Photo –
Nidia Rivera of Brockton stands in her son’s basement bedroom on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Rivera’s basement flooded during last year’s storms and will be rebuilt by volunteers.

BROCKTON — Months after Nidia Rivera’s basement flooded, she began coughing and itching Continue reading

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Brockton Mayor Awards Spring Flood Disaster Volunteers and Survivors

BROCKTON – Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti will presenting awards Saturday, March 26th at the Pentecost Unied Methodist Church at 380 W. Chestnut St. in Brockton  to organizations and volunteers who repaired and rebuilt the flood-damaged homes of the elderly, disabled and Continue reading

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FEMA & Mass VOAD’s Long Term Recovery Video Files

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Massachusetts Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, with its associate Long Term Recovery Groups, often work in conjunction with each other to assist communities in recovery from disaster locally and throughout the nation.

Your voluntary help with these situations is more than welcomed and very much appreciated. FEMA has put together a video file of some of this work. Please click here:  FEMA VIDEO FILES in order to familiarize yourself with the work and to see how you can assist your fellow citizens in need of help. For volunteer opportunities, please email

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Long Term Recovery Help from Floods Needed

The floods during the summer have caused a lot of dangerous mold situations in Massachusetts and Massachusetts VOAD actions are still being taken to help with this situation. Hundreds have been helped due to Massachusetts VOAD and their volunteer member organizations.

Here is an update of what is happening on long term recovery efforts, particularly the handling of mold Continue reading

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