Congresswoman Katherine Clark

In the News

White House adviser has history of inciting racial division


WASHINGTON — Less than a week after President-elect Donald Trump pledged to govern for “all Americans,” Republicans and Democrats spent Monday sparring over Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s newly appointed chief strategist and senior adviser, who has a history of using a right-wing news platform to spread divisive views.

In appointing Bannon to a top advisory post, the president-elect sparked anger in black, Jewish, and Muslim communities — many of which were already skeptical of the incoming Trump administration. He also created an opening for Democrats and Republicans to raise concerns that Trump is aligning with the “alt-right,’’ which to many critics is a rebranded form of white supremacy.

Bannon, a former Wall Street investment banker who also worked in Hollywood movie production, became executive chairman of Breitbart News in 2012, where he served until joining Trump’s campaign for the White House in August. Under Bannon’s direction, Breitbart has been intensely criticized for its conspiratorial and harshly worded posts, such as “How Muslim Migrants Devastate A Community” and “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?”

Through a spokesman, Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who refused to vote for Trump for president, expressed concerns about the selection of Bannon.

“The president-elect has stated that he will focus on unifying the country after a divisive campaign and the governor is concerned that this selection runs counter to that important goal,” said Brendan Moss, a Baker spokesman.

“This appointment is exactly the wrong message for Americans who were fearful that Trump will continue his hate, bigotry, and division of the campaign into the White House,” said US Representative Katherine Clark, a Democrat who represents suburbs north and west of Boston.

Clark has been a target of Breitbart’s ire. Earlier this year, an article on the site said she was “cultural authoritarianism personified” after Clark asked the Justice Department to crack down on Internet harassment.

“That is not what American values are, what we stand for as a country,” Clark said. “If that’s the message the Trump administration took from this campaign — they are wrong.”

Anti-hate watchdog organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Southern Law Poverty Center have also released statements repudiating Bannon’s appointment.

Trump, who called Bannon a “highly qualified” leader on Sunday, has yet to respond directly to criticism of the future senior adviser. Other members of Trump’s political team, including incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, defended Bannon Monday.

“Here’s a guy who’s from Harvard Business School, a 10-year naval officer, from London School of Economics. He’s very, very smart. Very temperate,” Priebus said.

House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, asked Americans not to “prejudge” Bannon. Conway said “people should look at the full resume.”

Bannon, 62, joined the Trump campaign in mid-August, at a time when the candidate’s eventual ascendancy to the White House looked unlikely. He is credited, along with Conway, with helping craft the campaign’s successful strategy of focusing on white voters, especially in rural areas.

However, Bannon’s professional and personal history includes many examples of divisive views on race, gender, and religion.

Breitbart News has a section of articles dedicated to “Black Crime.” After five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas this year, Bannon wrote an article that suggested that African-Americans are “naturally aggressive and violent.” In 2007 court proceedings, he was accused by his former wife under oath in court of not wanting to send their children to a school with Jewish students, an allegation that Bannon denied, according to media reports at the time.

In 2015, weeks after the racially motivated murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, Breitbart published an article encouraging people to fly the Confederate Flag “high and proud.”

“While your supporters are trashing the monuments and reputations of the forefathers of so many Americans, Barack, you might just want to remind us again which state of the Union, north or south, your ancestors resided in during the traumatic years 1861- 1865? Or did Kenya not have a dog in that fight?” the article said.

Republican strategist John Weaver, who worked with Trump’s primary rival, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, strongly objected to the Bannon appointment.

“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office,” Weaver tweeted Sunday night. “Be very vigilant America.”

Democrats unleashed a flood of criticism. Representative Seth Moulton, who represents the North Shore, denounced Bannon as a “white supremacist” on Monday.

Senator Ed Markey also released a strongly worded statement, and said “there is no place in our society, let alone the White House,” for someone like Bannon.

“If the saying is true and you are the company you keep, Donald Trump has chosen to champion the positions of neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-Semites by appointing Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor,” Markey wrote. “President-elect Trump will forever poison the well with Congress and the American people by appointing a figure who has fueled the rhetoric and activities of hate groups.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren also criticized the appointment, addressing Trump on Twitter: “You said you’d be a ‘President for all.’ Then why are you embracing the ugliness & divisiveness of your campaign?”

Speaking at a press conference Monday afternoon, President Obama said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on the incoming president’s White House appointments. But in a general response, Obama said any disagreements that he and Trump have are a “reminder that elections matter, and voting counts.”

Jeremy Burton, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, denounced the appointment.

He said Bannon’s selection contradicts Trump’s message, made in his early morning victory speech Nov. 9, in which the president-elect promised to be a leader who helped “bind the wounds of division” in America.

“We’re deeply concerned that the worst rhetoric or hatefulness of the campaign will become the policy of the administration,” Burton said.

He highlighted an early November campaign advertisement run by the Trump team. In the spot, a narrator characterizes Trump as an outsider politician who could usurp the “global special interests” who control the “levers of power in Washington.” As the narrator speaks, images were shown of financial leaders of Jewish faith, billionaire investor George Soros, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

Astead W. Herndon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWH..




The most prominent advocate for targets of online abuse is becoming one herself, and refusing to let it stop her.

When Katharine Clark was a state senator in 2012, a man posted on her Facebook page, "People like you deserve to get shot."

Clark had been a prosecutor and had served on the local school board. She was no stranger to public antagonism. In 2010, a local comedian had done a stand-up bit in which he'd called her a whore. But this was the first time in her political career that she had been truly scared. "As much as people always say you have to have a thick skin to run for office, you never really can ignore it," she told me in May when I visited her at her home in Melrose, a suburb north of Boston.

Clark's living room is decorated with books and family photos and a cross-stitched pillow that reads "A Woman's Place is in the White House." (You know which presidential candidate she's supporting.) It's quiet in here today—her three teenage sons are at school, and her husband Rodney is at work. Bodie, the dog, wanders in and out of the living room. Clark, who has kind blue eyes and a layered gray bob, is wearing a cerulean suit jacket and beaded necklace that are distinctly "politician."

The fact that Clark is a politician means that police were quick to respond when she reported the threatening Facebook comment to the state police, who found the man who'd posted it and warned him not to do it again.

Her story is the exception, though. For almost everyone else who endures online insults and threats, justice is much harder to come by. Sometimes the harassers are protected by anonymity: It's pretty much impossible to pursue an attacker when you don't know who the attacker really is. Even when the harasser's identity is known, it's difficult for victims to find police who take the behavior seriously enough to shut it down. It's a vicious cycle that's hard to break, because when someone speaks up, they often become a target themselves.

Clark has been at the forefront of the push to reform the way that we handle online harassment, becoming perhaps the most outspoken member of Congress when it comes to the obstacles that women are facing online. She's introduced two different pieces of federal legislation, spoken at tech conferences, reached out to victims, worked to educate police, and directly lobbied social-media companies to change their policies.

And for her efforts, she's become even more of a target of the very abuse she's attempting to combat.

In 2014, several female video-game designers and writers spoke up about sexism in the industry and were met with brutal online attacks as a result. (You might have heard of this ongoing problem, which is known by the short-hand Gamergate.) They were inundated with hateful emails, tweets, and comments. Many were doxxed, which is when private information, such as your home address and phone number, is made public online. This, in turn, meant they were forced to leave their homes or offices, driven by the fear that they were now in physical danger as well.

Clark's staff realized that one of the women who was being harassed, a game designer named Brianna Wu, lived in her district. The congresswoman contacted Wu, and Wu told her that she had received more than 100 death threats, yet she wasn't getting support from local police. The FBI wasn't being particularly helpful either.

Clark's office called the FBI on Wu's behalf. "They were pretty clear with us that it wasn't a matter of resources. It just wasn't a priority," Clark recalls. "We decided that we would try and make it a priority for them." Soon after, she and her team began working on legislation to educate police about the problem of online harassment. "In a political environment where law enforcement has frankly not been very helpful for my family at all, Katherine Clark is the reason we're getting any attention on this at all," Wu told WBUR News last year.

For Clark, the inadequate police response was indicative of something much bigger. "This is more than annoying comments," she says. "This really interferes with how women make a living, and how they are succeeding or not succeeding professionally." She explains that many careers require women to participate publicly in social media. Other lucrative professions, like software engineering, are primarily digital, so maintaining an online presence is not optional. When the distinct possibility of online harassment deters women from making certain career choices, Clark says, this is about more than personal safety. It's an economic issue with immediate financial consequences. "For a lot of victims of online abuse, it ends up being lost earnings for court dates," Clark explains. "It's hiring security online to try to make that information private. It's hiring attorneys. It becomes a real expense and a burden, and we have to do a better job."

Of course, men are the recipients of online harassment, too, but study after study confirms that threats and hate speech are disproportionately targeted at marginalized groups like women and people of color. According to research by the University of Maryland in 2006, online accounts with feminine usernames receive 25 times more threatening or sexually explicit messages than masculine usernames receive. More recently, the Guardian analyzed 70 million comments, and found that, of the ten most abused writers on its site, eight are women and two are black men. And an Australian study found that a full 76 percent of women under the age of 30 have experienced abuse or harassment online.

Katherine Clark

In November of last year, Clark introduced the Internet Swatting Hoax Act, federal legislation to address harassment that originates online. When a person is "swatted," anonymous harassers call the local police to falsely report a violent incident at the target's address, ensuring that heavily armed cops and, often, entire SWAT teams storm the target's house in a misguided attempt to help.

Although swatting might not seem like online harassment—police banging on the front door are very real, not virtual—it's a type of intimidation that often comes as a result of doxxing. And it's an increasingly common way that online threats translate to real physical risk for women who are targeted. (Swatting can also be disconnected from online harassment. Clark is aware of some victims who were targeted at random, like an elderly couple in her district.)

Federal laws prohibit bomb threats and hoax terrorist attacks, but they do not apply to false reports of other emergency situations. In other words, there's a swatting loophole. Clark's legislation would close it by making swatting a federal crime, and punishing perpetrators according to the amount of harm they inflict on their victims. Some swatting incidents "are basically very dangerous prank calls," Clark says, "and some of them are very well-thought-out tools to harass people, to try and hurt them, to get the police to injure them."

It was 10 p.m. on a Sunday, three months after she introduced the swatting bill, and Clark had just gotten home after an event. Her sons were in their rooms, and she and Rodney were settling in to watch an episode of VEEP. That's when she noticed the flashing lights. Cop cars were blocking off either end of her street. She ventured outside, where she realized that the officers were facing her house. And they were carrying long guns that looked like rifles. Two officers approached her and told her that they'd received an anonymous report—from a computerized voice—that there was an active shooter at her home.

Active shooter. Computerized voice. Clark put the pieces together: "The minute they said 'We received an anonymous call,' I'm like, "Oh, I know what this is.'"

The police were quick to believe her when she explained that it was a hoax. But Clark realizes that, like their swift response to the threatening Facebook comment a few years ago, the police treat her differently because she is a politician. In other swatting situations, there have been instances in which the victims have almost been shot or injured.

Although the people who swatted her were never identified, Clark suspects that she was targeted because of the legislation. She understands that this is one of the consequences of fighting anonymous, online abuse. Most internet harassers would not come to her doorstep with a gun themselves, but many are willing to use a computerized voice to ensure the police show up with their weapons drawn. Anonymity lowers the stakes for the harasser—but not for the victim.

Yet Clark has not allowed this to deter her. This spring she appeared at SXSW, where she announced a new bill to ensure that police departments are properly trained to address online harassment and threats. "I think that police officers want to help," she says, but "they just don't have training. We need everybody to be able to know how to do a basic forensic investigation online." In other words, victims need to know how to keep track of the harassment they receive, from emails to comments to tweets. And police need to know how to make sense of it all. That's why the bill would also create a national resource center for online crimes.

Clark has also been trying to work with social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and Reddit to ensure they're addressing these issues from the inside. Her office recently found success with this approach: They sent a letter to Genius, a social site that allows any web page to be annotated and commented on, explaining how its software could be used as a harassment tool. In response, Genius added a "report abuse" button. For her efforts, Clark was also rewarded with a fresh wave of nasty tweets from her detractors, politely suggesting she "go drink bleach" and calling her a four-letter word that starts with "c."

Both bills that Clark has introduced are stalled, stuck in the infamous congressional gridlock. Her staff thinks the swatting bill still has a fighting chance. They are more pessimistic about the odds of passing the law enforcement training bill, which has a $20 million price tag.

But there is at least one successful precedent for Clark's effort to change things. The legislation she's proposed is similar to the Violence Against Women Act, which since 1994 has funded training for cops and courts in how to address intimate abuse and stalking. Clark sees other parallels between the two issues: Online harassment is written off as unsolvable by some and inconsequential by others, which is similar to how domestic violence was once seen. "Why don't you just leave him?"—once the standard dismissive response to victims of abuse—is akin to "Why don't you just close your computer?" Just as police were once completely unequipped to respond to domestic violence calls, today many departments struggle to help people who report online harassment. When, for example, journalist Amanda Hess reported online rape threats she'd received, a local police officer responded to her, "What is Twitter?" "It sort of compounds the harm that was done when nobody understands what you're going through," Clark says.

Today most people recognize domestic violence as a crime with horrible consequences for women. Perhaps in the future online harassment and threats will be viewed the same way. "We're not going to be able to prevent it all," Clark says, "but there has to be resources and training that gives people a reasonable level of protection and safety." And, she adds, she's going to keep working until we get there.

Read more of Ann Friedman's work here.

Meet the Woman Behind the Democratic Sit-In

Original Article

Another Lewis and Clark

Sitting on the plush blue carpet on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Katherine Clark remarked to Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon who helped lead the Selma-Montgomery marches in 1965, that this sit-in must surely be “cushier” than his first.

Indeed, he replied gravely with a hint of a smile, it was.

It was through Clark’s actions that Lewis and dozens of other Democratic members found themselves sitting on the House floor protesting the GOP’s refusal to hold votes on two gun-control provisions in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. But though this was her first sit-in, Clark is no stranger to civil disobedience.

Clark won her Massachusetts seat in December 2013 in a special election to replace Ed Markey, who was headed to the Senate. One of the first people she met coming to Congress was Lewis. “He came over and introduced himself and said to please call him ‘John,’ I was tongue-tied,” Clark told TIME in an interview. “I was so in awe that I got to serve with him and that his kindness and generosity extends to everyone — even the very very newest member of Congress.”

The two struck up a friendship and Clark would make a point to visit with Lewis whenever he came to her district, which wasn’t infrequently. Clark represents Harvard, Tufts and a host of other schools where Lewis was often invited to speak. Clark accompanied Lewis to Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the march last year. And they would often chat during votes.

So it wasn’t unusual when last Thursday Clark approached Lewis during a vote on the House floor. Clark was frustrated. The House was set to hold yet another moment of silence for the victims of a mass murder perpetrated by a mad man wielding a gun. She wanted to do more.

democrats gun control sit in
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards

“I wanted to do something to keep gun violence in the forefront of not only the American people but, more specifically, members of Congress and he suggested, in his words, that we do something dramatic, and he suggested having a sit-in, and it really went from there,” Clark recalled.

Clark worked for two years right out of law school in Chicago doing, in part, civil rights cases and she took part in an anti-KKK protest when she lived in Denver that turned into a riot. But this was her first experience engaging in civil disobedience on the floor of Congress. “When you have John Lewis, such an icon of the civil rights fight for justice, you know that good things are going to happen,” she said. Lewis has credited Clark for the sit-in.

democrats gun control sit in
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards

Though the sit-in has ended — for now — Lewis said not to count them out. Lewis and Clark are not done pioneering a path for passage for those two gun-control measures, which would close a loophole in background check for gun purchases and ban those on the FBI’s terrorism watch list from purchasing weapons.


“Our goal is that when the House is in session and we have the possibility of bringing up that vote, that we are there being vocal about this issue, and that we keep this momentum going,” Clark said. “I think we have spoken loudly and I think the American people have answered.”

Given that 90% of Americans support the two provisions, Lewis and Clark are confident that, as the old political adage goes, where they are sitting, America stands.

Oct 07 2015

Clark Op-Ed in Commonwealth Magazine

Helping low-income families out of poverty

Commonwealth Magazine
Helping low income families out of poverty 

Building a pathway that leads out of poverty and into economic self-sufficiency requires hard work, resilience and persistence. However, low-income families will do all it takes to reach economic independence if given the means. To create that opportunity, service providers, philanthropy, and government must come together as partners to create the necessary supports needed to escape poverty.

Poverty is harder to escape than ever before as jobs that can support a family continue to require increasing levels of education. This is particularly hard on single mothers who, as the sole heads of 39 percent of low-income families, face the overwhelming challenges of juggling childcare and jobs, while working to gain the post-secondary education credentials they need to improve their lives.

To address poverty head on, we must develop comprehensive, multifaceted approaches focused on simultaneously improving family stability, well-being, education, financial management, and employment. To make such approaches successful, corresponding government-sponsored supports must provide the temporary help with things like child care or transportation that low-income families need as they strive to get ahead.

Social service programs are doing their best to help low-income families transition out of poverty. Crittenton Women’s Union has successfully worked with low-income women to address all parts of their lives, improve decision-making skills, and develop the persistence and resilience needed to stay on the pathway out of poverty. Seventy-four percent of Crittenton program participants are in school or working, and, after three years in the program, 65 percent have a technical or college degree, 57 percent have a savings account, and a third have secured a job with a living wage.

With these results, we are seeing more city, state and federal programs adopting similar comprehensive coaching approaches to move families out of poverty.  However, at the same we are seeing cuts both locally and nationally resulting in fewer resources for single mothers, homeless families, and struggling low-wage workers. These supports are imperative to help the social service providers and state programs achieve lasting success with low-income families who are willing to work hard and build skills to move ahead on the path out of poverty.

According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, over the past decade, funding has been reduced for adult education, job training, child care subsidies, housing, and many other programs that help those in poverty cover the basic expenses and pursue the education and training needed to become economically secure.  Since the largest user of these services are women looking to improve the lives of their families, they and their children bear the brunt of these budget cuts.

Now, the federal government has an opportunity to be a stronger partner with social service providers and low-income families who are working together to end dependence on public assistance.

Congress is currently working through a reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a federal grant program that gives states resources for temporary assistance for families living far below the poverty level. TANF empowers state governments, social service organizations, and families to work together toward self-sufficiency and financial stability. The reauthorization gives Congress an opportunity to revitalize a program that can be a critical lifeline for vulnerable families, especially those who are seeking opportunities to exit poverty through education and training leading to better jobs. The addition of case management as well as career, educational, and life-skills coaching, coupled with the financial and child care assistance already available to some families, would lead to successful transitions off TANF and other public assistance programs.

Congress also has an opportunity to evaluate outdated policies in TANF, such as restrictions that make it difficult for participants to complete post-secondary training programs and requirements on states that emphasize job placement in any job, even those that cannot financially support a family, over development of skills leading to higher paying careers.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

Reauthorizing the TANF grants and including new provisions that will help low-income families help themselves move out of poverty permanently will truly be an act of “reform,” making government a stronger partner in our combined efforts to end poverty.

Congresswoman Katherine Clark represents the 5th District of Massachusetts. Elisabeth Babcock is the president & CEO of Crittenton Women’s Union.


OCTOBER 01, 2015

In announcing Clark’s new position, Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer called her “an effective member of the whip team” who “brings a strong voice for women and families to the table.”

Senior whips meet to discuss key issues, and they talk with fellow Democrats about upcoming legislation.

Clark votes against fast track authority

Washington, D.C.  – Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark released the following statement regarding her vote against fast track authority, also known as trade promotion authority (TPA), that establishes an expedited process for the approval of trade deals negotiated by the President. 

“I want any international trade agreement to defend our standards for workers’ rights to safety and fair wages, strengthen environmental protections, and protect jobs. These issues within the Trans-Pacific Partnership need debate and resolution, and granting fast track authority effectively ties Congress’ hands in the negotiating process. The choice isn’t whether or not to have trade, the choice is whether or not to fight for our values in this trade agreement.”


RELATED: Important Information about protecting yourself from immigration scams
SOURCE: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  


On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.  

These initiatives include:

  • Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to people of any current age who entered the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.USCIS will begin accepting requests for expanded DACA on February 18, 2015 |Details
  • Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents* program, provided they have lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and pass required background checks | Details
  • Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens | Details
  • Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to grow our economy and create jobs | Details
  • Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee | Details

If you believe that you have been misled by someone pretending to be an attorney or Accredited Representative, or if you need additional information, please call the Office of the Attorney General at 617-963-2917.

You may also contact the Massachusetts Bar Association at (617) 654-0400, if you would like a referral to an attorney.

Finally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides more information on legal services on its website:

For assistance or questions about immigration issues, you may reach my offices at 781-396-2900.

Washington, DC

In my Washington, DC office, internships run throughout the fall, spring or summer semesters for college students. Although all internships in all offices are unpaid, students gain invaluable work experience. The hours are flexible to accommodate students' hectic course schedules, but generally run 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. when Congress is in session, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when not in session.

In Washington, interns' responsibilities will vary. They will be asked to answer phones, run errands, research legislation for the Member and legislative staff, attend hearings and briefings and answer constituent letters on various issues before the House. As a result, interns learn about the legislative process and the many other functions of a congressional office.


In my Massachusetts office, interns may be asked to do a variety of things, including day-to-day office work such as answering phones, writing letters and assisting with media clips. In addition, interns may be assigned to assist in various constituent case work or work on District-based projects of importance.


or email us

Resources for families and businesses in need of assistance:

Application: Tornado Relief Fund Application from the City of Revere (Deadline: Sep 15)

Application: Small Business Administration (SBA) Application for Affected Families and Businesses 

Information about Small Business Administration (SBA) Federal Disaster Loan for Affected Families and Businesses.
SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and most private nonprofit organizations. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets. 

City of Revere: 
281 Broadway. Revere, MA 02151
The main phone number is: 781-286-8100 

U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance
(880) 659-2955 

Office of Congresswoman Katherine Clark:
5 High Street
Suite 101
Medford, MA 02155
phone: (781) 396-2900   

Want to help?
Revere Tornado Disaster Relief Fund

The City of Revere has established a fund so that these residents and business owners are not alone in shouldering the burden of rebuilding their lives and our community. Please support the relief fund here and share this information. 


The following story appeared in the Boston Globe on August 28, 2014

A month later, Revere still recovering from tornado

Repairs were underway on Wednesday to a house on Taft Street in Revere, but other residents were still negotiating with insurance companies following last month’s tornado.


Repairs were underway on Wednesday to a house on Taft Street in Revere, but other residents were still negotiating with insurance companies following last month’s tornado.

REVERE — Exactly a month ago, Paul Carrabes was at work in East Boston when he got a call telling him a tornado had roiled this oceanside city.

“My brother called and said, ‘You need to get home. The house is gone,’ ” Carrabes, 61, recalled.

Just after 9:30 a.m. July 28, an EF-2 category tornado, which can generate winds of up to 120 miles per hour, slammed directly into Carrabes’s house on Revere Beach Parkway, ripping off the roof.

Tornado hits Revere

Carrabes and his brother will not be returning anytime soon to the home where they grew up and later lived with their spouses.

“We’re getting an apartment,” said Carrabes, who plans to move Sept. 1 to Charlestown, where he and his wife have a one-year lease. “The insurance company hasn’t settled anything on the house as of yet.

‘When you go to bed at night, you don’t sleep good because your mind is going with all these things that you have to do.’

James DePaulo, retired air traffic controller 
Quote Icon

“We’re in a holding pattern.”

It is a story that rings with sad familiarity on the Revere streets that bore the full fury of the tornado, which roared along a 2-mile path that extended from Revere Beach Parkway to Brown Circle. Within four minutes, the storm was over, with no deaths or serious injuries.

For those with homes or businesses damaged by the tornado, the last four weeks have brought a flurry of calls with insurance companies, stacks of repair estimates, and lots of waiting.

“When you go to bed at night, you don’t sleep good because your mind is going with all these things that you have to do,” said James DePaulo, a 70-year-old retired air traffic controller.

DePaulo said he had to leave his Revere Beach Parkway home for three days after the tornado caused about $100,000 in damage to his front porch, slate roof, and walls.

“The biggest problem is trying to deal with the insurance company in terms of what they’re going to pay you and trying to get a contractor who can do it all,” DePaulo said.

Immediately after the storm, 14 buildings were left uninhabitable and nearly 70 structures were damaged, said Miles Lang-Kennedy, chief of staff to Mayor Daniel Rizzo.

Carolann Gambale walked past neighbors’ homes still patched with blue tarps and plywood on Wednesday on Revere Beach Parkway.


Carolann Gambale walked past neighbors’ homes still patched with blue tarps and plywood on Wednesday on Revere Beach Parkway.

Since then, the number of uninhabitable buildings has dropped to nine, Lang-Kennedy said. So far, more than 1,300 tornado-related insurance claims have been filed, including requests for help paying for tree and debris damage, according to the state Division of Insurance. The agency said the average claims seek payment for $10,693 in losses.

The total amount of damage to public property is unknown, but Rizzo said tree removal alone cost more than $400,000, and there is damage to eight municipal buildings, including City Hall, which might need a new roof, at a cost of about $1 million.

Still, the extent of destruction was not enough to qualify for federal disaster aid, leading city officials to look elsewhere for help.

One source is the Revere Tornado Relief Fund, which has raised about $225,000 so far, Rizzo said. The deadline to apply for aid is Sept. 15, and money is expected to start being distributed in late October, Lang-Kennedy said. About 40 applications for assistance have been received.

“It’s really been rewarding to me to see the outpouring of support and to see, really, the generosity that is making this bad situation at least a little bit better for these victims,” Rizzo said in his office.

The US Small Business Administration is offering low-interest disaster loans to residents and businesses, but there has not been much interest, an agency spokeswoman said. The office has received four applications for home loans and one for a business loan, spokeswoman Kathy Cook said. Three home loan applications have been approved for a total of $66,000, she said.

Cook encouraged people to consider applying for aid.

“There’s a resistance to take on additional debt just in general,” Cook said. “The other thing is people prejudge their situation and count themselves out and they don’t take the time to apply.”

Rizzo said he has heard a wide range of reports addressing how insurance companies have handled claims. They range from stories of firms offering blank checks to reports that consumers are getting low-balled.

“There’s no net gain in haggling over nickels and dimes when people’s lives were turned upside down in four minutes,” said Rizzo, who also owns an insurance company. “It’s good public policy for them to go out and be as fair and as upfront as they can right from the beginning.”

Anthony Pintone, co-owner of Master Auto, said he has been caught in a waiting game since the tornado ripped the roof off his building. He said he rented space in Saugus where he can do vehicle repair work, but the rest of his business is on hold.

“I lost everything,” he said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.