‘Everyone Was Running Like Crazy’

(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, West Springfield, Mass.) - The sound of a community continuing to rebuild could be heard throughout West Springfield Friday - one year to the day that a tornado tore through this neighborhood and across the Memorial Bridge into Springfield.

Resident Laurie Phillips said, "It was quite shocking, it came so fast, it was just literally minutes by the time we got in the basement and my son looked out the window and it was over."

It was over, but the battle back from the devastation had just begun.
Still, houses are boarded up, tarps cover homes, and debris remains in many backyards.

Resident Brian Annette said, "After the storm it was horrible, there were like six or seven trees down all up and down the street, there was powerlines down, telephone poles, everyone's backyard was full of trees, there were houses messed up, nobody had power, everyone was running like crazy."

As the moment the twister hit was marked with a garden dedication, bell tolls and a moment of silence Friday afternoon, the man who will never forget what this storm took from him looked on with tears in his eyes.

Juan Guerrero said, "We're going to try to live life as we used to, I know that will be impossible because my wife is not here anymore."

Guerrero lost his wife Angelica in the tornado as she dove on top of their daughter to protect her.

"It's a hard time, a hard day.  You know how difficult it is for me to come here and listen to what happened a year ago, it's not easy," said Guerrero.

But he says watching his now 16-year-old daughter, Ibone, muster up the courage to live on, even going back to karate classes, has been an inspiration.

Guerrero said, "I'm proud of her, and that means to me she's a strong person as she used to be before, then and now, and I hope she keeps doing the same thing."

As Gov. Deval Patrick comforted the Guerreros, he marveled at the fact that Angelica's death was one of the few that day.

Gov. Patrick said, "Frankly to be reminded that there wasn't more loss of life given the extent of the physical devastation is a pretty extraordinary thing."

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