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Mass. Tornado Claims Rise; More Funding Offered

By Johanna Kaiser, Associated Press
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Sturbridge Tornado Damage

BOSTON (AP) – The financial toll from tornadoes that ravaged Springfield and several smaller communities has risen dramatically.

The state’s Division of Insurance estimated Thursday that residents have filed 8,200 insurance claims totaling $140 million for damage caused by the June 1 tornadoes, making it the state’s costliest natural disaster in recent memory.

Mass.Gov: Tornado Recovery

Of those claims, 4,200 were home insurance claims totaling $120 million; 3,700 were auto insurance claims totaling $15 million; and 200 were commercial property claims totaling $5 million.

The figures are up from an initial count of 5,000 claims totaling $90 million.

The state and federal government are offering aid to for Hampden County and portions of Worcester County where the three tornadoes touched down.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared the state a federal disaster area, allowing affected communities and state agencies to receive federal reimbursement for costs associated with infrastructure damage, debris removal and emergency response. Home owners and private business owners rebuilding after the storms are also eligible for aid.

Residents who lost their jobs as a direct result of the tornadoes can apply for federal disaster unemployment assistance through Dec. 17.

Donate: The CBS Boston Cares Massachusetts Tornado Relief Fund

Gov. Deval Patrick visited Springfield Thursday to discuss the government aid being directed to the region. Nine disaster recovery centers are scheduled to open this weekend.

State lawmakers have also approved a $50.3 million supplemental budget that includes $15 million to cover the cost of emergency response, cleanup, and assistance and shelter to residents after the storms.

The funds can be used by any state agency or department.

The bill also allows municipalities to assess property values based on the condition of the property as of June 30 for 2012 tax filings.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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