Damage claims in tornado-hit Massachusetts rise sharply

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 17, 2011 1:08 PM
Damage claims in tornado-hit Massachusetts rise sharply

CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - The deadly tornadoes that ripped through western and central Massachusetts earlier this month have spurred 8,200 insurance claims worth about $140 million of damage, state officials said on Friday

The figure tallied by the state Division of Insurance is up more than 50 percent from an earlier damage estimate of $90 million from 5,000 claims, which already made the twisters the most costly Massachusetts natural disaster in memory.

Of the new claims number, 4,200 are related to home insurance costs that now total $120 million, while 3,700 auto claims have risen to $15 million and 200 commercial property claims reached $5 million, said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Some 1,400 buildings were damaged by the June 1 tornadoes, including about 400 homes that were destroyed, Judge said. The most powerful tornado cut a 39-mile swath from Westfield east to Southbridge.

Two people were killed in West Springfield and one person died in Brimfield.

President Barack Obama this week signed a disaster declaration for Hampden and Worcester counties that frees up federal funding to residents and business owners and will help supplement state and local recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Also this week, the state Senate approved a $15 million bill to pay for state costs for the tornado damage and cleanup, which was contained in a $50 million supplemental budget.

(Reporting by Zach Howard, Editing by Greg McCune)