Thursday, June 02, 2011

One CT woman's connection to Springfield storm

By Barbara Stanley
The power flickered on and off for a few minutes in the Hunt Street offices in Agawam, which lies on the Connecticut river in Massachusetts. My husband Mark left the building for the drive home, and as he entered the rotary for the entrance to the highway bridge, he thought it odd that there was none of the usual traffic.
Up on the interstate, he noticed to the east, dark skies and lightning, and strong winds. Also not many people on the road. It was about 4:40 in the afternoon on June 1, 2011.

Back in Connecticut , his wife and grandson were tuned in to the local news station, which was fixated on the storm situation ... the magnitude of what was occurring in south central and western Massachusetts was slowly unfolding, and it would be awhile before anyone would really understand that this was no two-bit whirlwind. Still, I picked up the phone and dialed Mark, hoping he would have stayed put at, or perhaps under, his desk, surely not out on the road at those dangerous moments.
No answer, so I left a message and hoped for the best.

His call came at 5:20; he made it to Hartford where he was meeting a few friends for beer and chat. She explained that a twister did in fact touch down in Springfield, and he was mildly surprised, but both were hopeful that it was brief and did minor, if any damage.

As the evening wore on and the news station offerings were consumed with the story, it was clear that Massachusetts and maybe parts of Connecticut were not out of the woods yet.

At 7 p.m., my son Jeff called to ask if Dad was all right and to let us know that Jenn, his wife, was home safe after having ridden out the twister in the basement of her office building on Memorial Avenue in West Springfield. I could hear little Jackson in the background so she knew that he, too, had arrived home. Jeff had picked him up at his daycare in Enfield, just over the border from Massachusetts, not many miles from where the devastation took place.

Jenn had gotten a ride home from a co-worker, after finding that her Honda had suffered a broken driver's side window, so she had to leave it there in the lot. She was understandably shaken a bit, the tornado literally came right over the building across the street and destroyed it.

Streets are closed , power out in many locations, and Mark's office is without air conditioning today, June 2. Jenn is at her desk, calling around to make sure other homeowners are safe and know what to do while the clean up efforts are under way. A few lives were lost, there were some injuries, and survivors are grateful for what still stands.

Not your typical night in New England.

and hurricane season is just beginning...
Barbara Stanley is a South Windsor mother and grandmother who was raised in Milford.

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