Tornado Victim Receives Donated Motorhome

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August 2, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

What is left of Village Green Family Campground near Brimfield, Mass., since the June 1 tornado is a much smaller even more tightly knit community which has been hopeful in the face of devastation.

The community was encouraged by the donation of a motorhome to Richard Reim, whose girlfriend died when their original motorhome was destroyed, the Springfield, Mass., Republican reported.

Woody Duncan of North Brookfield donated the motorhome to Reim after hearing what happened.

“I was glad to help. I was glad to give it to someone who could actually use it,’’ Duncan said.

Duncan had camped with his family for 10 years in the motorhome but with his children grown past the age where they are interested in camping with the family, he had planned to sell it.

Reim and his girlfriend, Virginia Darlow, were in their Winnebago motorhome June 1 when the tornado that blew from Westfield to Charlton whipped across the campground.

The motorhome was lifted 30 feet up into the air and then crashed to pieces when it landed on the ground.

Darlow was killed and Reim was left with six broken vertebrae, a concussion, bruises and scrapes.

Reim said his condition has been improving day by day. A body cast he was placed in for the back injury was taken off July 28.

Since early June, Reim had been talking about his desire to return to the campground that he and Darlow had looked at as a second home, but his injuries and the restrictions that came with wearing the body cast were not the only impediments.

Campground owner Lester Twarowski said 95 of the 97 trailers and motorhomes that were on the grounds June 1 were destroyed. Most of the trees were blown down and the camp facilities like the shower house and camp store were badly damaged.

In the weeks since, Twaorowski, his small staff, some seasonal campers and volunteers have worked daily to restore the place, acknowledging that it will take a long time.

About 20 families are now spending weekends and some weekdays there, some in new campers and trailers, some in tents, all in the section of the grounds up near Route 20.

When Duncan moved his motorhome to that area for Reim to move into, Twarowski said it lifted the spirits of everyone there.

“I am definitely going to try to stay at the campground,’’ Reim said. “It depends on how I feel. It will be a day at a time. I will definitely stay there as soon as I can. That place is my family.’’

“Everybody at the campground already told me they would help me,’’ Reim said.

Reim is thrilled with the motorhome Duncan gave him and said it is in great shape.

Twarowski has cleared a small number of campsites of debris and has removed a few of the trailers after the owners had agreed to terms with insurance companies, and he and volunteers have rebuilt the playground and started work rebuilding the pavilion.

“We still have a big mess,’’ Twarowski said, noting that he has to remove all the broken trailers, restore electricity and water to the sites and make the place safe.

The campground cannot accept more than the 20 or so families who have set up there in the past weeks, but Twarowski said he is hoping to be able to open to the general public next year.

Looking out at the devastated landscape that was a wooded campground just a few months ago, Twarowski said he will also have to plant trees.

But he said he is determined to rebuild and is bolstered by the attitudes of Reim and the others who insist on being at Village Green.

“If they won’t give up on me, I can’t give up,’’ Twarowksi said.

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