MassLive: After Gov. Healey’s visit to flood-struck areas, a wait for aid (Editorial)

After Gov. Healey’s visit to flood-struck areas, a wait for aid (Editorial)

Listening and fact-gathering are the first steps. Action is the next.

Gov. Maura T. Healey donned emergency garb and took to the air Wednesday to show she recognized the severity of this week’s flooding in parts of Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire counties. While the damage from torrential rain was not as catastrophic as in Vermont, the storm’s runoff scoured landscapes and roads in hill communities, then laid waste to fields of produce on the valley floor.

Healey visits Williamsburg and North Adams

Gov. Maura Healey visited Williamsburg and North Adams on Wednesday to assess damage from flooding. (Juliet Schulman-Hall / MassLive)

Healey offered reassurance that government will help communities recover. “We’ve got to find a way to help people,” Healey told listeners at one stop.

There are proven ways to help. We implore Healey’s team to use them.

Residents and local officials deserve follow-through.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is taking stock of the damage. An official traveling with Healey said that assessment could be completed next week, with decisions about financial assistance to follow.

Most in the area will have forgotten by then about this week’s rain – but not those whose livelihoods were jeopardized. That includes scores of small farms that are part of the wonderful resurrection of locally grown agriculture.

In Florence, Toni Hall of Song Sparrow Farm discovered flooding from the Mill River ruined a lettuce crop valued at more than $40,000. A few miles away, Ben Perrault, co-owner of Mountain View Farm, swam across a flooded area to inspect damage to a field, as waters continued to rise Tuesday. His farm estimates it needs $250,000 in help to remain in operation. As of Thursday, people had pledged more than $119,000 in gifts through an online fund campaign

For local agriculture, flooding delivered a third blow of the year, following an early spring freeze that hit orchards. May saw a frost that damaged budding blueberry and strawberry plants.

Claire Morenon, a staff member with Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, said the full extent of this week’s damage may not be known for a while. Some farms know the score already. “This has been, potentially, a catastrophic event for a small number of farms,” Morenon said.

For them, government assistance will be vital to ensure they remain part of the Valley’s precious agricultural patchwork.