Lawmakers seeking assistance for those impacted by broken dam in Belchertown | News
BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Heavy rain over the weekend overwhelmed the beaver dam in Belchertown and caused it to break and wash out a road. Now, legislators are planning to help residents living in the impacted area.
After a stormy weekend that led to severe flooding, the beaver dam in Belchertown broke early Sunday morning. The rush of water completely washed away part of East Street and found its way into people’s homes, causing some unexpected damage.
“Cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning, moving rocks and debris, cleaning the basement 15 hours a day…That’s all we do,” said Linda Wood, who lives on East Street in Belchertown.
On Wednesday, State Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Jacob Oliveria toured the area to assess the storm impacts. Town administrators said they haven’t heard from the state at all and both legislators said they’re disappointed.
“Frankly, the state response has been lacking. They haven’t gotten significant communication from the state about what they could help with or what they could support,” Lesser explained.
Lesser told Western Mass News that he believes the dam could’ve been monitored more closely after consistent days of heavy rain and maybe this extensive damage could’ve been avoided.
“There are standards and procedures in terms of lowering or opening or closing the dams to allow water flow when there’s a flood or a lot of rain and it doesn’t necessarily sound like that happened,” Lesser noted.
Although East Street is a town road, the dam that experienced a breach is about a mile away on state property, making this destruction a state issue. Oliveria and Lesser told Western Mass News they plan to take this issue to their colleagues immediately. They said right now, fixing this road is a top priority.
Because many residents on East Street do not have flood policies, they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket to repair any damage to their homes. That’s why Lesser and Oliveria are now involving MEMA in hopes that they can help get the residents some federal funding.
“We might be able to recoup some federal dollars to help out with the communities, with the roadways, but also to help out the homeowners,” Oliveria said.