Missouri Tornado Was Similar to That in Worcester | NECN

Missouri Tornado Was Similar to That in Worcester



    (NECN: Eileen Curran, Worcester, Mass.) - Massachusetts is not prone to the wild weather seen in Missouri and the Midwest. But on June 9th, 1953, a tornado left a path of destruction through much of Central Massachusetts.

    The devastation in Joplin, MO has a lot of people in Worcester, MA remembering the deadly tornado that struck that city nearly 60 years ago.
    "See, they're looking for bodies under the rubble," said Kathy Lundstrom as she watched a video of film footage her father, Henry Ekberg shot back in 1953.  Ninety-four people died in the tornado.  Ekberg was in his early 20's back then and lived at home. He and his mother hid in the basement when the tornado struck. When they emerged, Ekberg grabbed his camera and started shooting.
    "See, there's a car right there," she said pointing to an overturned vehicle.
    Until his death in 1995, Ekberg would have his four children watch the tornado film every year and then he'd take them to the former Assumption College. The main building was practically cut in half by the twister. It's now Quinsigamond Community College. You can still see where the old brick on the lower half meets the new brick where they had to rebuild.
    "When we were kids, we were taught if it hails out, you just head into the basement," said Lundstrom.
    Scientists say this year's tornado activity proves something the people of Worcester have known all along.
    "There's clearly no truth to the myth tornadoes don't hit big cities," said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, MA.
    The last big tornado to hit southern New England was in Great Barrington, MA in 1995. Three people died, dozens were injured.
    Field says, statistically, a big tornado hits that area once every one and a half to three years.
    "I'd think southern New England is due for a significant tornado, sooner or later," said Field. "(I) can't say whether this year or not," he added.
    Even though she's become a bit of a weather "buff" over the years, Lundstrom hopes Worcester doesn't get another big twister.  She says her heart goes out to the people of Joplin.
    "I feel really bad for them," said Lundstrom.

    The Heart of Missouri United Way launched a Joplin Relief Fund, where 100 percent of all donations will be given to relief efforts in Joplin. Text "JOPLIN" to 864833 to make a $10 donation, or visit the organization's website for more information.