Springfield Marks 5-Year Anniversary Of Deadly Tornado

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SPRINGFIELD (CBS) — The mayor of Springfield asked residents to observe a moment of silence Wednesday afternoon to mark the fifth anniversary of a tornado that killed three people and caused $200 million in damage.

On June 1, 2011, the EF-3 tornado started on a path of destruction through western and central Massachusetts 39 miles long, from Westfield to Charlton.

The maximum intensity of the tornado was felt in the towns of Brimfield and Monson.

Winds of up to 160 mph caused widespread devastation in 19 communities, and destroyed about 1,400 homes and 78 businesses.

Many homes in Monson were wiped out or heavily damaged.

Five years later, lifelong resident John Schneider said the way the community pulled together made all the difference.

“It’s nicely recovered,” Schneider said. “Things are even better and it was a sense of community that developed around that process that has continued to this day.”

In Brimfield, volunteers helped clean up the Village Green Campground where a woman was killed.

“We took a direct hit,” campground owner Lester Twarowski said. “For a good month we had no emotion, no feelings, just kind of like in a daze.”

But then something remarkable happened. People began to help, especially people who had camped there.

“The whole bunch of them out with shovels and rakes and chainsaws, we had a lot of companies that came in here with 100 people,” Twarowski said.

Twarowski said the business is turning the corner and they broke even last year. “After a situation like this you look forward to paying taxes because that means you made money,” he said.

Debris from the tornado was found as far away as Natick.

President Obama declared a major disaster, leading to $25 million in federal aid.

The moment of silence took place at 4:38 p.m. Wednesday, the time the tornado first entered Springfield.

Photo: Rubble of the home in West Springfield of Angelica Guerrero, who was killed in the June 1, 2011 tornadoes.

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Kyrie Wagner

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