Sens. Finegold and Payano Praise Addition of $15 Million for Storm-Damage Aid in Budget

Inspecting flood damage at Progressive Roofing in Haverhill were Sen. Pavel Payano, Senate President Karen E. Spilka, owner John Hostetter and Sen. Barry R. Fiegold. (WHAV News photograph.)

State Sens. Barry R. Finegold and Pavel Payano Tuesday night thanked their colleagues for advancing a supplemental budget that includes $15 million in aid for local communities still reeling from this summer’s storm damage.

Senators voted 36-3 to approve the amount as part of a roughly $2.8 billion supplemental budget bill that comes in the final hours of this season’s formal session. Holding up approval was debate over putting $250 million more into the state’s strained emergency shelter system.

Payano said, “This year, we saw heavy rainfalls and flooding have a disastrous impact on communities across the state. The stories of what constituents were forced to endure over the summer was horrifying. I had constituents that were forced to swim to their cars. The damage to the community was extensive. This funding will ensure that municipalities affected by natural disasters will be able to financially assist some of the population most affected by the storms in 2023.”

Finegold gave an overview of what he saw and learned this summer. He said, “I remember touring some of these businesses, some of the homes. I went into Jamie’s Restaurant in North Andover and, frankly, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. When I visited the Good Day Café, these people were absolutely devastated. They had insurance. They just didn’t have flood insurance because they were never told they needed it. I don’t even know if they’d be able to get it.” He added his alarm when he saw sinkhole in Haverhill, saying, “Never have I seen anything like that. The most amazing thing is that no one was hurt.”

Both Payano and Finegold said they expect repeat devastation because of continuing climate change. Payano gave a warning, saying, “As we continue to adjust to the uncertain weather patterns brought on by climate change, we as a state must think creatively about how we respond to these storms and flash floods. This is a step in the right direction.”

Finegold thanked Senate President Karen E. Spilka for touring sites in Haverhill and North Andover. He also asked if a permanent fund can be created for future events. “If there ever are devastating events like we saw, can there be a fund, can there be something that we in the Commonwealth can rely on?”

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