Mar 2, 2014

Press conference to reveal FEMA financial agreement for tornado damage to CHS



(Iobserve file photo/Fred LeBlanc)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD -- Congressman Richard Neal announced this afternoon, through his Washington office, that he will hold a press conference tomorrow, Monday, March 3 at 1:30 p.m. to announce a “significant financial agreement” between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The media advisory indicated that he would be joined by Springfield Bishop Timothy A.  McDonnell, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno and acting regional FEMA  administrator Paul Ford. The press conference is scheduled for the Surrey Road campus, which housed both Cathedral High School and St. Michael’s Academy Middle School prior to the devastating June 1, 2011 tornado.

Last September, after a long and, at times, very adversarial negotiation, the diocese reached a settlement with its insurance carrier, Catholic Mutual. That agreement opened the way to begin talks with FEMA.  According to diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont, those discussions have been very active and ongoing since immediately after the federal government shutdown last October. 

Dupont confirmed that Bishop McDonnell would be taking part in the Monday press conference but provided no additional details.

On a related note, Cathedral High School is expected to announce the early results of its recently initiated endowment campaign designed to raise essential funds to support more families in their need to pay for a Cathedral education.

Like most Catholic schools, Cathedral had experienced significant enrollment declines for 20 years prior to the tornado.  That devastation, the move to temporary quarters in Wilbraham, and uncertainty on the school’s future have further been a setback for the school which has a 130-year history in Springfield.