MONSON, MASS. (WHDH) – Some Bay State residents are remembering the powerful tornadoes that tore through communities in Western and Central Massachusetts 10 years ago Tuesday, killing three people and destroying hundreds of structures along a 39-mile path that stretched from Westfield to Sturbridge.
The strongest tornado, an EF-3 twister with a maximum wind speed of 160 mph, touched down just after 4 p.m. on June 1, 2011, and it ripped apart about 1,400 homes and 78 businesses.
Roofs were torn off of homes, cars were flipped upside down, and buildings were reduced to rubble. In all, the trail of destruction was estimated at nearly $180 million.
That particular tornado was on the ground for about 70 minutes and it powered through 10 communities including Monson, Brimfield, Stockbridge, Monson, and Charlton. It claimed the lives of three people and injured another 200. Five hundred residents were left homeless.
A total of four confirmed tornadoes took place that day, according to the 7Weather team.
Aerial video of the aftermath showed neighborhoods littered with massive piles of debris.
Karen King says she hid in her basement and prayed as the tornadoes rumbled through Monson.
“I was screaming…I was told to go under the stairs,” King recalled. “I just couldn’t believe what was happening. It was just a surreal moment. It was over within minutes.”
The First Church of Monson, which was destroyed by the tornado, has since been rebuilt. Church bells tolled at 4:38 p.m. to commemorate the historic day.
“It takes your breath away a lot of the time. People will never forget,” King added. “I’ve never been so scared, just shaking.”
King noted that the devastating day made Monson a much more resilient community.
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