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As floodwaters recede, western Mass. officials, residents and farmers add up the damage

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State officials toured parts of western Massachusetts on Wednesday to survey flood damage to homes, roads and farms.

Gov. Maura Healey stopped in Williamsburg, where the rains caused a serious flash flood on Monday. Several residents were evacuated their from homes — now damaged by the rising water.

Healey spoke not far from an important bridge in town that remains closed because of potential damage.

Her administration will do everything it can, she said, to assist people, including farmers, whose lands were devastated. She took a helicopter earlier in the morning to check it out.

"To be able to see fields just still covered, people are suffering and will suffer, you know, total wipeouts this year," said Healey, who was also scheduled to scope out damage in North Adams.

Dawn Brantley, acting director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said communities lead their own initial damage assessment, and the agency provides support along the way.

"So we know of about 10 to 12 [towns] that declared local states of emergency," she said.

Damages will be added up over the next few weeks to see what federal and state funds may be needed and available.

"The funding is going to be key to these communities," state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, said. "They can't make up this damage on their own. So we're a little bit in wait-and-see mode until the numbers come in fully."

Sabadosa said her office is already lobbying legislative leaders for state funding.

Large portions of Grow Food Northampton — including a community garden and small farms that lease property — were flooded Monday by the Mill River.

Toni Hall from Song Sparrow Farms is calculating the losses from crops the flood moved or spoiled.

"At least a third of our farm is leaf crops that we can't sell, because they were covered in water that was contaminated," Hall said. "And also, if the soil health allows it, if we can get fruiting crops, we have to remove the fruit that is currently on the vine, and wait for the next round of crops to grow."

NEPM's Sam Hudzik contributed.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
Christopher “Monte'' Belmonte is host and executive producer of NEPM's The Fabulous 413. He was born and raised in Massachusetts and has been a radio host in western Massachusetts for the last 20 years — the last 17 of them as host of Mornings with Monte on The River 93.9/WRSI.

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