Conway residents looking to rebuilding

A week after a tornado tore through Pumpkin Hollow, residents are looking to rebuild. Congressman Richard Neal was there with State Rep. Stephen Kulik surveying damages and cleanup efforts with local officials.

CONWAY — A week after a tornado tore through Pumpkin Hollow, residents are looking to rebuild.

“We’re playing with a lot of different approaches — to put something on the site, but it won’t be the same,” said John Maggs, referencing a barn flattened in the storm a week ago. On Friday, he and his wife, Jan, met with Congressman Richard Neal, who was there with state Rep. Stephen Kulik surveying damages and cleanup efforts with local officials.

At the time of Saturday’s storm, Neal was in Washington, D.C.

“It’s remarkable how much things have changed in five days. The town has really pulled together,” said Kulik, pointing to the Maggs’ barn which has been cleared of debris down to its foundation. Earlier in the week, Kulik toured Pumpkin Hollow with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and state Sen. Adam Hinds.

Jan Maggs noted the structure’s historic value, built in the 1860s, and said no building will ever be able to “capture that charm, that character. We can never replicate it.”

Previously, the barn stored inventory for the couple’s business, Jan and John Antiques. John Maggs said while the barn is insured, he doesn’t yet know how much of the business will be covered.

Speaking to that, Neal said there might be resources available for financial help through the U.S. Small Business Administration. He said his office would reach out on their behalf.

Farther up Whately Road, closer to the town’s center, Neal and Kulik also spoke with Steven Thomas, whose 1850s house, valued by the town at $250,000, was badly damaged. The front walls and roof were ripped off, leaving rooms exposed. A recently built timber-framed addition, however, was untouched. Thomas said the addition can be lived in if it’s separated from the damaged section, which he intends to rebuild in the future.

A tree problem

Across the street, Neal and Kulik also toured 101 Whately Road, owned by local musician Katherine Waddell. That house, built in 1791 and assessed by the town at around $180,000, lost its roof and porch and took other damage. In the backyard, almost every tree was damaged in some way, either uprooted, tipped over, or snapped off mid-trunk.

While walking through the yard past a large uprooted pine tree, local resident Palmer Yurica, who’s been helping Waddell clean up, said, “This is thousands of dollars, and insurance isn’t going to cover it.”

Addressing these concerns, Kulik said state funding might be made available for homeowners through a supplemental budget. He also pointed to money raised by the town, adding, “that could be a source of funding as well.”

In an update about those funds, Fire Chief Robert Baker said the Conway Volunteer Fire Department’s Women’s Auxiliary is setting up a committee of town’s people to help decide where it should go, based on need.

Among other state and federal agencies that might be able to provide assistance, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have a few programs.

In an email, NRCS Public Affairs Officer Diane Petit said ,“the Emergency Watershed Program can help address problems in a watershed caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural occurrences when they cause an imminent threat to life and property. EWP is a disaster recovery program made available in emergency situations when neither the state nor the local community is able to repair a damaged watershed. EWP assists communities rather than providing assistance to individuals.”

She added, “individual forest land owners with damaged forest stands could apply for financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.”

For more information, contact the agency’s Greenfield field office at 55 Federal St., or call 413-772-0384, ext. 3.

At the local level, there’s a tree and debris cleanup event organized for this Sunday in Pumpkin Hollow scheduled at 10 a.m.