TOLLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – The town of Tolland is getting an outpouring of support from local communities, following a devastating fire Sunday.
The town is without its Department of Public Works headquarters. A fire destroyed the facility Sunday afternoon – just as the first snow storm of the season there began. Now, the community doesn’t have any snow plows or trucks of its own to sand or salt the roads.
Tuesday morning, DPW Superintendent Ed Deming actually had to go buy shovels to clear walkways of snow. The fire destroyed more than $1.5 million worth of equipment. Deming grew emotional as he described what was placed in front of the devastation. He said the son of the man who first reported the fire placed his toy trucks there as a symbol of the town’s sense of community and resiliency. 22News asked what the toy trucks meant to Deming and the DPW. He said, “everything.”
But the town of about 500 people is getting an incredible show of support from neighboring communities. The towns of Granville, Becket, Huntington, Cummington, Southwick and others are offering equipment to get through the winter. Winter has already arrived in Tolland. Tuesday morning, strong winds blew inches of snow onto heavily traveled roads, like Route 57.
22News asked town selectman Steve DellaGiustina what the long term plan is. “I haven’t a clue at this point, honestly. I’ve got another phone call to do with our insurance company, and we’re going to hash that out at that point,” DellaGiustina said. He added that there hasn’t yet been talk of the money needed to replace the equipment. He said state agencies, like MEMA, or the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, offered their help almost immediately after the fire.
State Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield) met with town officials on Monday. Humason said MEMA or the National Guard could help provide a shelter for borrowed equipment, since the DPW garage burned down. He also said MassDOT is considering taking responsibility for plowing the main road in town, Route 57, so that Tolland crews could focus just on the side roads. That could mean the DPW itself plows the state road, or could contract the job out.