WEST SPRINGFIELD — Governor Deval Patrick, commemorating the one-year anniversary Friday of tornadoes that ravaged Western Massachusetts, announced an additional $4 million in recovery aid.
The money will go to areas including West Springfield, Monson, and Brimfield to clear debris from parks and other public spaces, as well as replant trees. Other relief money was made available in recent weeks, including a $2.1 million pledge to help Springfield preserve 47 units of housing in low-income areas.
Patrick said the Legislature passed a supplemental budget that will allow the state to use unallocated money in the general fund for tornado relief.
“If it helps plant trees that were lost and open playgrounds in time for the summer, then good for us and good for the community,” Patrick said.
At a planting and remembrance ceremony at the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club, Patrick and Mayor Gregory C. Neffinger of West Springfield planted a redbud tree in memory of Angelica Guerrero, who died protecting her daughter from the tornado.
“You see a day, with everything so green and pleasant, it is hard to believe that this community was turned upside down just a year ago,” Patrick said. “To visit with the Guerrero family, to be reminded that there was loss of life, frankly to be reminded that there was not more loss of life, given the extent of the physical devastation, is extraordinary.”
Patrick told a group of about 80 that the recovery was made possible because of their commitment to each other and said that should continue.
“There will be other challenges after the cleanup and rebuilding from this tornado, just as there were challenges before it,” Patrick said. “That coming together, that common cause and common stake is the solution to every challenge we face.”
Nadia Banaru, a Russian immigrant who lives in West Springfield, said the tornado ripped the roof off her house, and she lost most of her belongings after water gushed in. She said she was forced to move in with her in-laws while her landlord repaired the home.
“We were there for five months. It was hard for my kids and my family,” Banaru said. “Even though everything was fixed, we still lost a lot.”