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Rep. Richard Neal on BPR

Rep. Richard Neal Attributes Recent Storms To Climate Change

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Rep. Richard Neal on BPR

Forty-three people were displaced after a tornado whipped through Webster and Dudley this past weekend — the third twister to hit the state in ten days.

Rep. Richard Neal attributes the recent damage to climate change, telling WGBH News the recent damage reminded him of walking through his district after a tornado outbreak in Western Massachusetts in 2011.

“I went to neighborhoods that I didn’t recognize anymore,” Neal said during an interview with Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “We align many of our views based on where trees are and where buildings are, and when they’re all of a sudden gone you start to think well jeez, that’s an entirely different setting. The violent fires that are taking place in California and Russia a few years ago, and the flooding in Alabama, all of it is, I think, climate-related.”

Neal assessed the storm damage in Dudley on Monday. He said he’s been working closely with local officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and MEMA, the state’s parallel agency.

“It wasn’t as bad in Dudley as it was in Webster, but FEMA in my conversation with them made it clear that they’re prepared to offer assistance,” he said. “They did an outstanding job in Springfield and seven other communities seven years ago when they were affected here, at the same time MEMA seems to be the one agency that is taking charge.”

Neal says it’s still too early to make an accurate assessment of how long reconstruction will take or how costly the rehabilitation will be.

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