Recovery

Tornado Rips through Webster, Mass.

The National Weather Service confirmed yesterday afternoon that a tornado hit the town of nearly 17,000 people packing 110 mph winds.

by Kathleen McKiernan, Boston Herald / August 5, 2018

(TNS) - A tornado packing 110 mph winds hit Webster with “no warning at all,” tearing up Main Street, cutting off power and displacing 25 — with one driver injured by flying debris.

It swept into town as a line of powerful storms rolled through the state yesterday leaving flash flooding and broken tree limbs in its wake before heading out to sea.

“It’s horrible,” said Ann Lavallee, 25, of Webster. “It hit Main Street. It blew out the windows of some buildings. Some businesses were destroyed. There are fallen tree limbs ... flooding.

“My parents were driving home from Dudley,” she added. “I was terrified and worried for their safety. ... We don’t get a lot of tornadoes in Massachusetts.”

The National Weather Service confirmed yesterday afternoon that a tornado hit the town of nearly 17,000 people located south of Worcester on the Connecticut border.

At noontime, some 3,000 people in Webster were left without power, according to National Grid. Over 100 utility crews were dispatched to the area to restore power by 6:45 p.m. last night.

The storm left dozens of trees and limbs scattered across cars, porches and backyards.

“Holy (expletive), there’s a tornado in our backyard,” one Webster woman said in a video posted to YouTube as the twister hit the town.

Main Street was blocked off as police and fire worked to repair the damage amid downed power lines and trees. The roof of one building was torn off completely and landed on a second building, damaging both beyond repair.

“Our first concern was the safety of residents in the area,” said Webster fire Chief Brian Hickey. “We were extremely lucky.”

In total, three buildings were condemned — two commercial and one that included several apartments in the upper levels, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Four to five more buildings have been deemed uninhabitable. About 25 people were displaced from their homes.

One woman was injured slightly after materials flying off buildings hit her car.

Town officials opened the senior center on Church Street for displaced people to take cover. And the Red Cross responded to the scene.

The storm with its strong gusts shocked people as they tried to clean up after.

“It was wild,” said Debra Horan, 50, owner of Booklovers’ Gourmet on East Main Street. “It was just weird. The wind was blowing in one direction one second and the next, it was reversing in the other direction.”

Angela Lincoln, 29, of Webster, who was volunteering at the Community Cat Connection when the tornado hit, told the Herald the town was hit hard.

“Power lines are out. Traffic lights are out. Smashed windows. One of the buildings collapsed. It’s a little scary to drive around and see it. It’s sad to see. I never thought a tornado would hit a town like this. It definitely happened with no warning at all,” she said.

The weather is expected to go from one extreme to the other as it becomes hot and humid today and the rest of the week. Temperatures are expected to reach into the 90s today and tomorrow.

“Limit your exposure outside,” said Steve Travis, a meteorologist with Accuweather. “Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated.”

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