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'Everybody was caught back-footed'

Neal tours Southbridge, other storm sites

Rep. Richard Neal looks over the cleanup of Cohasse Street with National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Crawley and Town Manager Christopher Clark. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
November 02, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is getting all too used to visiting Southbridge to deal with natural disasters.

Just two weeks ago, he'd been here to review recovery efforts from June's tornado. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, he swung through town to get a quick look at some of the issues from last weekend's snowstorm.

"Everybody was caught back-footed," he said, noting his own Springfield home is without power.

At about 2 p.m. Tuesday, National Grid's website listed 3420 out of its 8110 Southbridge customers were still without power, with a total of 211,344 powerless across Worcester County. In most cases, it stated, they'd have power back by 11:50 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3.

But for Neal, the big issue is the longer-term cost of the cleanup. He said he has been meeting with the governor and Mass. Emergency Management officials, who have collectively sent requests to the federal government to have the region declared a disaster. If damage costs reach the threshold of $4 million per county, the feds will fund 75 percent of the bill.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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