June 2, 2011 by USA Post
Sturbridge Tornado, A section of a half-mile from the central Massachusetts town of Sturbridge is closed after an apparent tornado damaged homes and downed trees. City Manager Shaun Suhoski said that some people in the city suffered cuts, scrapes and bruises, but had no immediate reports of serious injuries.
Suhoski said emergency crews are cleaning and damage assessment. A shelter has been established in the city at Tantasqua Regional Senior High School. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that part of a machine shop in Sturgis was destroyed. The sound of chainsaws and generators filled the air this evening in Southbridge, Sturbridge and Brimfield, all the towns hit by tornadoes yesterday. While residents dig out and assess damage, they are breathing a sigh of relief that he survived the storm remarkably powerful. Although they recovered, people had to cope with power outages defrost their freezers, and problems with water lines in the city.
With the school was canceled in Southbridge and the Tantasqua district, keeping children out of the way has proved a challenge too.
61 Union School District, which includes Tantasqua Regional High School, high school and elementary schools in Sturbridge, Brookfield, Brimfield, Holland and Wales, will be closed again on Friday.
Day Class has been postponed, but will be held in conjunction with graduation on Sunday.
This morning, Southbridge Superintendent Eric Ely said he plans to open schools tomorrow, but the final decision depends on the cleanup progress today.
Traffic, of course, is terrible for the most affected areas. Sections of Route 131 and Route 20 in Sturbridge are closed, and numerous side streets. At least 1,600 customers are without power in Sturbridge.
The Southbridge is incredible devastation. Trees are everywhere, roofs have been torn from buildings, and cars and trucks are crushed by debris along Route 169 and Charlton streets. At least half dozen homes along Route 169 has a big orange “X” on their doors, which means that houses are unstable and may need to be demolished.
In Brimfield, Brett Minney was in his mobile home at 23 Hollow Road last night watching the coverage of the tornado in Springfield, when his world turned literally upside down and torn.
“I heard a fierce sound like a train coming. I took a blanket and the cat and got into a closet,” he said. “The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. Then I hit the ground.”
Even within the trailer destroyed and still holding her cat of 20 years old, Shadow, 48 years old, Mr. Minney had to dig out of the rubble pile that had been his home. The patient was treated at a local hospital for leg, back and head injuries, but this morning I was back in the trailer with her parents, Barbara and Dave Minney, sifting through the wreckage of his life.
“I’m completely screwed,” he said. “I do not have insurance.”
The Fire Department Boston Fire Department is among those helping out in Brimfield.
Outside the affected areas, which were scattered house fires likely started by lightning or other storm-related causes.
In Shrewsbury, three different rays damaged three homes in 45 minutes last night. Firefighters responded to a call from a beam in Cypress Avenue about 8:45 pm, then ran 10 minutes later at Brown Road, after lighting struck the roof of a house fire Capt. Seth Colby said. Residents there were no injuries, but the roof caught fire. Finally, firefighters went to Oak Street at 9:20 pm lightning struck a garage there.
Holden firefighters responded to numerous calls lightning last night, starting at 9 pm Although most of the calls turned out to be minor, a beam of 90 Winfield Road caused significant damage, according to a press release from the fire department.
There were reports of lightning fires in Worcester and Westboro as well.
National Guard helps out
Guards are responding to the worst affected areas, knocking on doors so that residents are safe or need assistance.
In addition, the National Guard has been receiving calls from people from out of state who cannot reach family members.
There are 10 teams for rapid assessment of incidents that have joined MEMA officials to inspect storm damage and a lot of crews working to remove debris and help with traffic control.
Debris teams have been deployed in Monson, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Southbridge and Brimfield.
National Weather Service check out
A team of three forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Taunton Monson surveyed damaged areas this morning.
Alan Dunham, one of the forecasters, said it appears that the tornado continued on the ground of 1.5 miles in Monson. Winds estimated at least 100 kilometers per hour. The width of the storm was estimated at a quarter mile to half mile, he said.
After examining the damage in Monson, the team had plans to go to Brimfield to assess the damage there.
Awakening to the destruction Southbridge
SOUTHBRIDGE – Residents of tornado-ravaged neighborhoods this morning are inspecting damage caused by a storm that carved a path of destruction along sections of Route 169 and Charlton streets.
“I’ve seen this in a movie once,” said resident Harry Hatzidis about 6 o’clock this morning while inspecting the damage on Route 169. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The tornado apparently came in Southbridge on a hill west of Route 169 and cross the street and Charlton before breaking a path to the airport.
“Now we know what people feel in the Midwest,”said Mr. Hatzidis.
Laflèche Lucille and Paul, living in Charlton Street, after hearing the tornado rolling through the city.
“It happens elsewhere,” said Mrs. Laflèche. “This does not happen here.”
State officials: 200 injured in storms
SPRINGFIELD – Public health officials in Massachusetts say about 200 people have sought treatment for a variety of storm-related injuries, and a regional trauma center of Springfield says at least three have injuries severe enough to require long-term rehabilitation.
Baystate Medical Center officials say the three are among seven people still hospitalized on Thursday with tornado-related injuries.
Dr. Reginald Alouidor, a trauma surgeon teams heading Baystate, says 25 people were treated Wednesday after a tornado ripped through the region. They were aged between 2 to mid 60′s. Most patients suffered broken bones or injuries from being beaten by debris.
The person most seriously wounded remained in intensive care on Thursday. Alouidor said that he expected to survive, but has a lacerated liver and other injuries sustained in a building collapse.
Sturbridge – Old Sturbridge Village is closed today. Power outages are delaying the cleanup of lands and roads in the area. OSV officials hope to reopen tomorrow.
“We are fortunate that Old Sturbridge Village escaped this situation of bad weather, no major damage, and our thoughts are with the people around the Commonwealth who experienced a greater loss due to these storms,”President and CEO Jim Donahue said in a statement. “Closing the Village is a precautionary measure, and allow our teams based on time to clean the fallen trees and branches, give space-time electrical equipment to restore power to the area.”
The blackout has affected people’s website. OSV can be reached by phone at (508) 347-0396 or (508) 826-1526.
Springfield prosecutor seriously injured in a tornado
SPRINGFIELD – An assistant district attorney was seriously injured during the tornadoes yesterday when he was beaten by debris while walking to his car in Springfield.
Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said he had met with the prosecutor in his office late yesterday afternoon. Minutes later, he was beaten by the debris left office and went through a lot. Mastroianni did not identify the prosecutor. He said he is hospitalized with a head wound but is expected to survive.
Mastroianni said he and other staff narrowly escaped injury when a large broken window and breathed into his office. He said he heard screaming away from windows. He and other workers ran and escaped just in time.
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