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The Spruces: Rebuilding after Tropical Storm Irene

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by Jennifer Huberdeau on 25 August 2012

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Transcript of The Spruces: Rebuilding after Tropical Storm Irene

The Spruces:
Rebuilding after Tropical Storm Irene Aug. 28: Tropical Storm Irene soaks the Berkshires.
A berm that holds back the Hoosic River breaks behind
the Spruces Mobile Home Park, flooding the park. Williamstown officials call for a mandatory evacuation of the park.
Residents who failed to leave two days earlier are moved to a shelter
at the elementary school. Some must be rescued by boat. Aug. 29: The park's 273 residents are displaced by Irene,
as the town is forced to declare all 225 homes as
"functionally unoccupiable" until individual inspections can take place. All 225 homes are inspected and labeled.
Red tags mean the homes are unsafe. Aug. 31: MEMA opens a Disaster Assistance Center at Williamstown Elementary School.
Residents are allowed into the park to claim their belongings and see their homes. Sept. 1: Gov. Deval Patrick tours the Spruces Sept. 9: 71 percent of the 225 homes in the park are condemned. Sept. 6: FEMA opens a Recovery Center in Williamstown and a mobile center at the park. Sept. 30: Attorney General Martha Coakley warns Morgan Management that it must continue to maintain the park and must move to restore power to units despite heavy damage to electrical poles that are no longer working. "While the Attorney General's office appreciates that Morgan Management has restored electrical service and roadways to certain sections of the park, it wants to know the company's intentions for restoring electrical service and roadways to other sections."
- Letter to Morgan Management, owner of the Spruces,
from Attorney General Martha Coakley's office. The agreements, which were reached during mediation Wednesday at the Berkshire Superior Court building in Pittsfield, come after Associate Justice Robert Fields, of the Western Division of the Housing Court Department, ordered Morgan Management on Oct. 12 to temporarily and/or permanently restore electricity to three units in The Spruces , which have been without power since Tropical Storm Irene hit on Aug. 28.

The owners of those homes, Linda Bell, Laura Brodeur and Donna Bishop, filed complaints with the housing court in Pittsfield on Sept. 28, asking that electricity be restored so they could be allowed to move back into their homes. Oct. 18: Morgan Management sues Williamstown
and the state Attorney General in Berkshire Superior Court as a means to determine the park's future. Oct. 26: Morgan Management agrees to restore power to
three homes in the park's west end. Specifically, the Pittsford, N.Y., company is asking the court to declare the damage an act of God; determine who is responsible for the physical and financial expense of removing mobile homes declared uninhabitable by Williamstown; determine the extent to which the expenses incurred by Morgan Management may be recouped from tenants; determine who bears the costs of relocating any mobile homes within The Spruces if a determination is made to reduce the size of the park; and determine whether - and to what extent - the outcome of Tropical Storm Irene has rendered The Spruces "discontinued." To view the full complaint: http://scr.bi/sz2Ze0 Nov. 15 - The state Attorney General's office replies to the lawsuit, saying that under Massachusetts laws, Morgan Management is legally responsible to maintain the park. To view the full document: http://scr.bi/uoih2v Nov. 28: Morgan Management files a claim for injunctive relief and calls 100 Spruces residents as defendents. To view the full document: http://scr.bi/uze51m Dec. 22: Williamstown expects a third of the 225 homes at the Spruces to be restored. However, only 59 have occupancy permits. Another 59 have been issued demolition permit. Of the remaining homes, 27 are still deemed "unsafe" and 80 have "restricted use" designations. The court has 30 days to rule on
Morgan Management's eight demands.
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