SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday marks the sixth anniversary of a deadly tornado that led a 40 mile path of destruction through western Massachusetts.
Three people were killed, and numerous homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged in the June 1, 2011, twister.
The tornado first touched down in Westfield, damaging homes, downing trees, and knocking out power. It strengthened and moved to West Springfield, where two people were killed before it crossed the Connecticut River into Springfield.
The powerful tornado ripped through six miles of Springfield before moving on to Wilbraham, Monson and Brimfield, where a third person was killed. The twister crossed into Worcester County, causing damage in Sturbridge and Southbridge, before finally dissipating over Charlton.
While there was destruction in each community along the way, some of the most widespread damage took place in Springfield, by far the largest and most densely-populated area hit. The tornado cut through the South End, East Forest Park, and Sixteen Acres neighborhoods, destroying blocks and blocks of houses.
Monson, also, was particularly hard-hit, with the tornado crossing right through the town center; destroying homes and businesses, and even causing irreparable damage to the town hall and police department. The twister knocked down the steeple of the First Church of Monson, which remained open in the twister’s aftermath to serve as a place of healing and community. The construction and installation of a new steeple served as a symbol of healing and resilience for the eastern Hampden County community.
In honor of those who died, and those whose lives were turned upside-down by this weather event, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has issued a call to all city residents to pause for a moment of silence at 4:38 p.m.