Aid groups fan out to provide assistance

By Stewart Bishop
Globe Correspondent / June 3, 2011

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Massachusetts residents affected by Wednesday’s tornadoes and severe storms have a number of options for assistance with food, shelter, clothing, and other disaster relief services.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, urged victims of the storm to call 211.

“We recommend people go there first and they will be directed to the right agencies,’’ he said.

In the coming days, the state will set up three disaster assistance facilities to help people in the four counties most devastated, Judge said, but added that anyone in need of assistance should reach out to authorities as soon as possible.

“We want to get people help immediately,’’ Judge said.

The Salvation Army is also in the western and central parts of the state to assist tornado victims and first responders. A Salvation Army spokeswoman, Danielle Degnan, encouraged victims in need of food, clothing, and temporary shelter to go to the group’s Springfield office at 170 Pearl St. or call 413-733-1518; or to go to the Westfield office at 12 Arnold St. or call 413-568-1256.

“Right now, the main goal is to provide food and water to those who are unable to get out of their homes or neighborhoods,’’ Major Thomas Perks, commanding officer of the greater Springfield Salvation Army, said in a written statement. “We are in this for the long haul, we will help folks until it’s over.’’

Residents who have lost power because of the storm are urged to contact their utility companies. Al Lara, a spokesman for Western Massachusetts Electric Co., said customers who have lost power should call 877-659-6326 or 413-781-4300.

“Call us immediately . . . and let us know about their specific outage so we can better account for restoration,’’ Lara said.

Amy Zorich, a spokeswoman for National Grid, cautioned that people who see a downed power line should keep their distance. She said customers who have lost power should call National Grid at 800-322-3223.

The Red Cross is also working to provide food, water, shelter, and mental health services, said Nancy Rowe, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. She said six emergency response vehicles are in the affected areas distributing food and water. She urged those in need of assistance to go to or call 800-733-2767.

The Salvation Army deployed four mobile feeding units to supply food and water to residents and first responders.

Stewart Bishop can be reached at