By Mayor Dan Rizzo
The City of Revere experienced Suffolk County’s first tornado in recorded history on July 28, 2014. And one year ago this week, we met the worst of Mother Nature and responded with the best of our community.
The tornado tore a two mile long path through Revere down the entire length of Broadway, severely damaging or destroying over 150 structures, including Revere City Hall. Total of all property damaged were in the millions of dollars. Because of the area involved, and insurance policy exclusions and limitations, hundreds of Revere residents and business owners who experienced property damage were left without assistance from the federal government (FEMA) and in many cases, suffered significant out of pocket costs for repairs and clean up.
Out of this adversity, generosity was born. We established the Revere Tornado Relief Fund (RTRF) so that residents and business owners did not have to go it alone in shouldering the burden of rebuilding their lives and our community. This effort was led by civic minded Revere residents, business owners, and friends of Revere. Former Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone served “pro bono” as Fund Administrator, while David Surface, CEO of St Jean’s Credit Union, former Revere resident and past Commissioner of the Massachusetts Probation Department Ron Corbett, Jr., resident and business owner Michael Falzone formed the RTRF Board of Directors. Over $260,000 was raised and distributed to close to 150 families and businesses that were impacted by the tornado.
Not surprising to anyone, our neighbors displayed tremendous generosity and compassion for one another immediately after the storm struck, and long before the RTRF was formed. A single conversation that I had in the aftermath of the tornado will always stand out in my mind as one that exemplifies everything that is good and right about our community.
The Massachusetts Chapter of the American Red Cross was on the scene within hours. I had set up an emergency shelter and asked them to reach out to make sure that those affected had a place to sleep that night. The following day I asked the Red Cross coordinator how many people had come to the shelter. He said no one showed up. It was empty. Homes were devastated and people were certainly in need, but everyone had found a place to stay, either with a family member or at a friend or neighbor’s home. When they had realized this was the case, they went into the hardest hit neighborhoods. He said in all of his years, he hadn’t seen a community and its residents support each other they way he saw here in Revere. I knew no one was left alone that night.
Through hundreds of individual acts of kindness, we took care of our own. I don’t think I have ever been so honored and proud to lead this city as I was that moment.
Yesterday we gathered on the lawn of the American Legion Building (249 Broadway) in Revere to place a plaque to commemorate the event. We remembered how fortunate we were that no lives were lost, but we also celebrated our community coming together to meet an unprecedented challenge and how we helped our neighbors when they were in need.