BRIMFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday is the fourth anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornado that devastated several towns and killed three people. 22News Reporter Kait Walsh walked the streets of Brimfield to show us how they’re still recovering.
“It came through in no time. I remember 10 or 15 seconds,” recalls Stephen Phifer of Brimfield. Fifteen seconds is all it took for the June 1, 2011 tornado to change Brimfield forever.
Over the past four years, 22News has shown you how the town has rebuilt. The landscape is painted with new houses and roads, but some parts of Hollow Road will forever be, hollow. Stephen Phifer’s home was repaired in months, but he’ll never see the lush trees near his property again. He said 800 acres of trees were destroyed in the Brimfield State Forest across the street from his home.
“It was a pretty well shaded road before the tornado with all the trees, and the traffic was reasonable, but now that it’s wide open, I think that contributes to the traffic going pretty fast by here,” Phifer said, pointing to the many cars speeding down Hollow Road, just off Route 20. Phifer said he’s noticed some permanent changes in nature as well, such as being able to see the sunset over that hill, when trees used to block that, and new bird populations arriving in the area.
Just over the hill is Haynes Hill Road. 22News followed the tornado’s path of destruction there. Bob Kinghorn lived downtown at the time and watched as the twister passed by his house. As he drives to his current him on Haynes Hill Road, he’s reminded of the destruction, sure, but also of the permanent blessing he said the tornado left on the town.
“We wouldn’t know each other if it didn’t happen because we all got together and helped each other out, and you know, I mean, there’s a blessing behind it I guess,” Kinghorn said, standing with his wife and two daughters. They were all grateful they were safe from the tornado’s powerful winds.
Four years is enough time to rebuild and repair, but for some, there will never be enough time to bring back what the tornado took away.