Springfield, Mass. Tornadoes, 2 Years Later | NECN

Springfield, Mass. Tornadoes, 2 Years Later

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Survivors of the 2011 tornado say they feel for the victims of the Moore, Okla. tornado (Published Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014)

    (NECN: Ally Donnelly) - Mark Lanzillo has to be careful with the news. He rushes to turn off the TV and images of the devastation in Oklahoma if his 5-year-old brother is around.

    "He's -- 'Oh my God, another tomato' -- tomato he used to call it -- 'Oh my God another tomato!'" he says.

    It will be two years ago June 1 that 24-year-old Lanzillo watched thru a window as one of the tornadoes that hit Springfield tore a path through his neighborhood, heading right for his Pennsylvania Avenue home. He scooped up his then-3-year-old brother and hustled his grandmother and 17-year-old sister into the basement.

    "They were just crying the entire time because they felt so helpless because in a situation like that there's nothing you can do. It just sounded like a train was coming right through the neighborhood. It was probably the scariest moment of my life," Lanzillo says.

    Three massive trees swirled into the house, sheering off the second floor, which has since been rebuilt. And while Lanzillo empathizes with the Oklahomans who have seen their world upended, but lays no claim that he knows what they're going through.

    "What happened here was nothing compared to what happened in Oklahoma. Seeing things get torn apart -- mothers getting taken away from their children, you know, two elementary schools -- that's devastating," he says.

    "The count. What's the count, what's the count?"

    The body count. That's what Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno kept asking for When the tornado hit his city. Amazingly no one died in Springfield and only three people in the area were killed in the storm -- a far cry from the Moore, Okla. tornado's death toll.

    "You're in triage right now. It's triage for a while. And then you're going to move to stabilization. Then you move on to rebuilding. Back here in Springfield you've seen there's been a lot of rebuilding," Mayor Sarno says.

    While the physical rebuilding is nearly complete, the emotional healing for those like Mark Lanzillo's brother is slower going.

    "Any time there's thunder and lightening, you know, he runs to my mom -- even loud noises, if the fire alarm goes off in m house because the EAS system that went off before the tornado, he, he gets so scared. It's sad, sad to watch, because there's nothing I can do about it," Lanzillo says.

    The city of Springfield soon expects the balance of about $40 million in federal assistance. On Saturday, June 2, the fit will host a series of events to mark the two year anniversary of the local tornado.