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What happens when a natural disaster wipes out or damages hundreds of homes and causes the loss of millions of dollars of property value off the tax roll of a community?

The Divsion of Local Services weekly online publication City and Town has a particularly compelling account this week outlining the scope of the property damage done by the tornado that hit Hampden County on June 1, and the response of local assessors to the challenge of fixing values on properties that no longer exist in the condition under which they were assessed.

Written by Sandra Bruso, who works in the DLS Bureau of Local Assessment in Springfield covering "her towns" as she calls them — and who from previous experience has firsthand knowledge of some of the towns ripped apart – and with dramatic photos provided by Kirsten Shirer, who works for DLS information technology in Springfield, the piece provides a community-by-community snapshot of devastation the tornado caused as it rode roughshod over urban, suburban and rural areas in Hampden County roughly parallel to the state line with Connecticut to the south.

As Ms. Bruso concludes, the recovery process in these communities, as well as the neighboring Hampden County community of Brimfield, and Sturbridge and Southbridge in Worcester County, is going to take some time.

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