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Tornado repairs can't rebuild communities

May 22, 2013 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com The end of the beginning On Monday morning, I met with an inspector who was sent by our mortgage company to inspect our home to make sure all of the tornado-related damage had been repaired. With that affirmation, our mortgage company should release the insurance money it has been holding. Thankfully my wife and I had the bulk of the money needed to pay our contractor by dissolving a retirement account. Otherwise we would be anxiously waiting for this action. We are not alone in the position of finishing up the repairs to our home just a few weeks before the second anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornado. There are many other people who have struggled for the past two years to deal with the process. Yes, for some of us it took almost two years, to find a contractor wrestle with an insurance company and report progress – or lack thereof – to a mortgage company. By the way, my wife and I did not qualify for any FEMA assistance, but we did receive grants from Catholic Charities and the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Springfield that were greatly appreciated. We are also grateful to Consumer Adjustors, which helped us understand the process in which we were involved as well as Energy Savers of America, our contractors, who did what they said they were going to do at the price we discussed. I have a difficult time watching insurance company commercials without making a comment or two. Perhaps there are some that make recovery from a disaster easy and relatively painless, but that's not what we experienced. Repairing our home is just a first step for us and I'm sure for many others. We still have a massive amount of landscaping issues thanks to the loss of six trees; that work will go on for a while. I really have to wonder if our working-poor neighborhood as a whole will see a revival of sorts. There are plenty of vacant lots now – some in private hands, some owned by the city – that would be ideal for new single-family homes. Of course, the issue is whether or not there would be the consumer demand to live in our neighborhood, regardless in a new home or not. After all, our neighborhood school is still in a temporary building that takes up much of our neighborhood's only park. While I am heartened to see DevelopSpringfield take on three projects that are all necessary and worthy, the question still remains as to who will take the lead in looking to find a new use for property in my neighborhood, as well as the South End and Old Hill. Having a casino in the South End may be a solution of sorts for that neighborhood, but what about redevelopment in the other parts of the city? The theory is the MGM casino would spur new development to handle an influx of employees to the city. I hope that would be the case, but I'm having some doubts. Letters policy My column last week about the Benghazi controversy has yielded a number of anonymous responses critical of what I wrote. Since I actually believe in a free press, I always try to print as many of the letters we receive, regardless of the opinions expressed in them. My only requirements are that they can't be libelous and you have to identify yourself. I don't understand why people think it's acceptable to lash out at someone while hiding. If you truly believe in a point of view then stand up with your opinions. Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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