Live Blog: Mass. Towns Recover From Tornadoes

Published June 2, 2011

Springfield residents were left to pick up the pieces after an apparent tornado roared through the city Wednesday. (AP)

Springfield residents were left to pick up the pieces after an apparent tornado roared through the city Wednesday. (AP)

After tornadoes and other forms of severe weather tore through parts of western and central Massachusetts yesterday, residents are putting their lives back together. We’re continuing to update our coverage of the severe weather that killed at least four at least three.

Update 5:44 p.m.: Alright, let’s close this live blog for the day. Be sure to check for all of the latest updates. We’ll have more on both and on Hubbub tomorrow.

Update 5:36 p.m.: WBUR’s Jesse Costa toured some of the hardest hit areas of the state today and took some amazing photos. We’ll be getting many of them onto the site today and tomorrow.

A tornado completely flattened a house on Hollow Road in Brimfield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The tornado completely flattened a house on Hollow Road in Brimfield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Update 5:25 p.m.: The governor says some 290 people remain in emergency shelters throughout the state. Certainly a large number, but only about half as many as those who sought shelter immediately after the storms.

WBUR’s Curt Nickisch checked in from Monson, Mass., where the storm damage was rough.

“Some houses are literally flipped over, others completely collapsed into the basement,” Nickisch said. “Roofs are off of houses. It’s devastating. Amazingly, nobody was hurt.”

Update 5:20 p.m.: Only four Mass. counties remain under a state of emergency, nearly 24 hours after three tornadoes swept the state.

Gov. Deval Patrick rolled back a statewide state of emergency to include only Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Worcester counties, as cleanup and recovery efforts intensified.

Also, the National Weather Service confirmed that at least three tornadoes — not just one — were responsible for heavily damaging the central and western parts of the state, according to Patrick.

Update 3:50 p.m.: More from Monson: An aerial view from State Police:

Update 3:15 p.m.: WBUR’s Curt Nickisch passes along these photos from Monson, one of the communities hit hardest by the storms. Here’s one:

Update 2:20 p.m.: WBUR’s David Boeri reported from Monson on Here & Now earlier this afternoon. Here’s his dispatch:

Update 12:35 p.m.: At a press conference this morning, the head of the state police and the mayor of Springfield said that they think one of the people who died last night died of cardiac arrest. That means it may not be a storm-related death. Until we know more, we’ll report that the storms last night killed three, possibly four, people.

Update 12:28 p.m.: Do you need help recovering from tornado damage? Do you want to donate to help the recovery? Check out this resource page we set up.

Update 12:23 p.m.: After surveying damage by helicopter, Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Scott Brown spoke to the media.

Here’s some of what they said:

  • Patrick: “The very first thing that is underway now, and was since the time the storm ended, is to complete the search and rescue. It’s about people first and foremost.”
  • Patrick: “[Recovery will] take some time, there’s no doubt about it. But we are resilient people in the commonwealth and we’ve got a great team responding to this and it will all work out in the end.”
  • Kerry: “There’s an enormous amount of work to be done, but we’re up to the task, we’re going to get it done. And if anything, the people that we have seen today and the stories that we have heard are unbelievably inspiring.”

Update 12:05 p.m.: Gov. Deval Patrick’s press office just sent out the governor’s schedule for the day.

At 1:45 p.m., Patrick will hold an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss storm response at MEMA headquarters in Framingham. At 2:45 p.m., Patrick is scheduled to address the media. When he does, we’ll have that live on

Update 12:02 p.m.: The WBUR newsroom spoke with Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

“Fortunately, we have not found any additional fatalities, so we’re still dealing with the number four that we have been dealing with,” Judge said. “According to Public Health, the number of folks showing up at various hospitals with assorted injuries related to the event is around 200.”

Update 11:53 a.m.: An assistant district attorney is one of the people seriously hurt in yesterday’s storms. The woman is expected survive.

Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni told the Associated Press that an unnamed ADA was struck by debris as she left her office and walked across the parking lot. Mastroianni did not identify the prosecutor, but did say that she is hospitalized with a head injury.

Update 11:48 a.m.: Officials say 18 communities sustained serious damage from yesterday’s tornadoes.

From the AP:

The affected communities are: Agawam, Auburn, Brimfield, Chicopee, Douglas, Millbury, Monson, Northampton, Oxford, Palmer, Springfield, Southbridge, Sturbridge, Uxbridge, West Springfield, Westfield, Wilbraham and Westover Air Force Base.

Update 11:29 a.m.: The Associated Press posted this amazing raw footage yesterday of a tornado forming on the Connecticut River on the outskirts of Springfield.

Update 11:16 a.m.: Gov. Deval Patrick and both Massachusetts senators are in the Springfield area, touring the damage and speaking with residents.

Numerous eyewitness accounts described how the apparent tornadoes tore through Springfield and other towns in the area, like Brimfield, Ware and Monson.

Stephen Hanjack, who survived the storm while hunkered down in Springfield’s arena, couldn’t believe the devastation it caused.

“You look at how powerful Mother Nature can be,” Hanjack said last night. “I’m at a loss for words.”

Update 11:01 a.m.: As of 11 a.m. there had been four deaths because of the storm. About 200 people had sought treatment at area hospitals for various injuries.

Springfield’s largest hospital, Baystate Medical Center, treated 25 people with injuries suffered in yesterday’s tornadoes and thunderstorms. Ten of the victims suffered traumatic injuries and two underwent surgery last night.

A hospital spokeswoman said a majority of the injuries were due to people being struck by objects traveling at a high speed.