(NECN: Eileen Curran, Springfield, Mass.) - Tornado victims in Western Mass could soon be seeing help from the federal government. Governor Deval Patrick, Congressman Richard Neal and other officials traveled to Springfield, MA Thursday to announce the opening federal disaster relief centers, which comes as good news to tornado victims.
Two weeks after a tornado tore through Springfield's South End, there are signs of progress, but there is also still much devastation.
Dave's Furniture, a longtime landmark business remains closed. A giant blue tarp covers a gaping hole on the building's facade. The recovery, said owner Dave Dudley, has been slow.
"It's very hard to get any workers down here," he said. "They're all busy right now."
It's not just finding contractors that has slowed efforts to rebuild, it's also finding the money.
"I would probably have to go take a loan from the bank," said Dudley. "I have some money, but I think it's going to be more than I have in the bank."
But with the president declaring a federal disaster area in two counties, federal funds should soon start flowing to help victims. That's no small feat considering disasters nationwide already have totaled 32 billion dollars this year.
"FEMA has been stretched," said Congressman Richard Neal, (D) MA-Second District. "Yet they were right here and in two weeks time we had a declaration from the White House."
FEMA will open nine disaster relief centers in the affected areas beginning Saturday. Victims can apply for cash grants up to 30 thousand dollars, small business loans up to millions, and unemployment, if they can't work as a result of the storm.
Governor Patrick said, while the feds will now be running the show, the state will continue to be available to help.
"Our hope is when the federal centers are up we then blend the state resources in the same place, so there is one place for people who have been affected by this storm and their families to go," said Patrick.
Once a tornado victim applies for aid, it can actually be a pretty quick process. A FEMA inspector will come within three days to examine the damage and the victim could have a check in hand ten days after that.
South End mainstay, Red Rose Pizzeria is back in business.
"Still the same Red Rose other than a couple broken windows," Milton Jacobs, a regular at the restaurant.
The staff says business is actually booming because many other restaurants can't reopen yet. They hope that changes soon.
"We all look out for each other, so we're rooting for the others to come back," said chef Eddie Diloreto.
As for Dave of Dave's Furniture...he's been in business nearly 50 years and no storm is going to end that run.
"I definitely will get back into business," he said. "One way or the other, I will make it."
Disaster relief centers will open starting Saturday. You can also get more information by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or online at FEMA.gov/assistance.