Signs of tornado still obvious in Brimfield

BRIMFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A vast expanse of woods in eastern Hampden County, Brimfield State Forest will take many decades before it returns to the way it looked before the June 1, 2011 tornado.

As the tornado cut its path of destruction from Westfield to Charlton, the wooded areas of Brimfield sustained significant damage. Three years later, the damage remains obvious, as a wide clearing can be seen through the woods of the state forest, and along Route 20.

Those signs will take a long time to go away. On Thursday, arborist Brady Yesak told 22News that it may take the forests that were damaged in the twister anywhere from 50 to 100 years to return to their pre-tornado conditions.

The State Forest isn’t the only place where you can still see the aftermath of the tornado. Just on the other side of the mountain is a residential road, Hollow Road. Several homes and businesses on that street were destroyed or heavily damaged.

22News talked to some Brimfield residents Friday afternoon. Many people still cannot believe the destruction that remains in Brimfield.

“It all depends on how much help we can get, how much they are willing to replant,” said Shirley Hard. “You know, there’s a lot that could be replanted; nothing left here. It’s ridiculous… it’s unreal.”

brimfield state forest tornadoOne business owner told 22News he was able to rebuild his home and his workplace, but it wasn’t an easy process.

Steve Phifer said, “Getting these buildings back livable, where we can work in them and live them, it’s been a chore.”

Ron Weston is one of those neighbors who lost everything. He has been able to rebuild some of his property, but he told 22News he hasn’t gotten much help at all from government agencies or banks.

Weston said, “Only that there was such a large loss, but then that was the answer; just that I had no income coming in. I mean, you go through a tornado and you have nothing left. How do they expect me to have an income until I get my business back up?”

The tornado reached its greatest intensity over Brimfield; reaching a width of one half of a mile, according to the National Weather Service.

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