After Cape Cod Tornado, Gov. Baker Activates National Guard

Some 3,500 customers were without power as of Thursday morning, according to the MEMA

What to Know

  • Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker says he will seek a federal disaster declaration after two tornadoes and powerful winds pounded Cape Cod Tuesday.
  • The NWS said two EF1 tornados with wind speeds of up to 110 mph touched down, one in Barnstable and Yarmouth.
  • The most extensive damaged was recorded in Harwich, where the town declared a local emergency.

Gov. Charlie Baker is activating the Massachusetts National Guard to help the Cape Cod communities affected by Tuesday's tornadoes.

Under the order, issued Thursday, up to 500 guardsmen and additional prison community work crews will spread out among the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and Yarmouth. 

"Earlier this week several Cape Cod communities suffered significant damage from two tornadoes and severe weather, and I am activating the National Guard and sending DOC work crews to provide additional resources in the towns requesting assistance," Baker said in a statement.

Baker had earlier said he was considering a federal disaster declaration to support cleanup and recovery efforts. The two tornados and powerful winds caused extensive damage, knocked out power to tens of thousands and ripped the roof off a hotel building.

It will take several days to collect information required to trigger federal aid, Baker said Wednesday after touring the affected area. He added that more resources were needed to clean up and restore power.

About 200 customers were without power as of Thursday evening, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. The towns most affected by the outage were Harwich, Chatham, Dennis and Yarmouth. Restoration by Eversource was expected to be complete before midnight. 

Don and Maureen Anderson watched as crews removed trees that had crashed onto their home in Yarmouth.

"I think we escaped without a hole in the roof," Maureen Anderson said. "We got lucky."

"All the poles were snapped in half and within 48 hours, to have power and be able to turn the AC back on and go back to semi-normal living is pretty incredible," said Rachel Mingos.

Charles Chase, 79, of Harwich, was still waiting Thursday to hear how much the damage a tree that fell on his roof is going to cost him.

"If the tree when it hit the roof, or pierced the roof in various places, then I think we're looking at a new roof," Chase said.

Despite all the damage to the area, Chase said there is a bright side.

"A great conversation piece for time on end you know. We can be telling people about it, tell our grandchildren about it, all that kind of stuff," Chase said.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday that two EF1 tornados with wind speeds of up to 110 mph touched down, one in Barnstable and Yarmouth, another in Harwich.

The most extensive damaged was recorded in Harwich, where the town declared a local emergency. Lights were out in more than 90% of Harwich following the storm and more than 40,000 customers were without power on the Cape Tuesday.

Hundreds of utility trucks were on hand doing disaster removal work, Gov. Charlie Baker said.

"It's very hard at this point to calculate how much debris and how much damage has been caused by this," Baker said after taking a tour of the damage Wednesday.

"It's very hard at this point to calculate how much debris and how much damage has been caused by this," Baker said.

The tornadoes struck during the peak of summer vacation season, forcing many people to hide out in rented homes or hotels, waiting for the intense storm to pass, which it did in about an hour.

The roof of one hotel, the Cape Sands Inn in West Yarmouth, peeled off during the storm. The motel was condemned by building inspectors, and guests were relocated to other hotels.

"This is the heart of our tourism season. Most of our communities, we make our lives out of people coming and spending their time," said the area's state senator, Julian Cyr.

Tornadoes seldom happen on the Cape and it's rare when a touchdown is reported.

F1 tornadoes were confirmed to have hit Marston Mills on August 9, 1968; and West Yarmouth on August 22, 1977. A tornado was confirmed to have hit Woods Hole on October 29 of last year.

No deaths were reported in connection to the disaster, but several structures were severely damaged. Roofs were ripped off buildings and numerous trees were downed following the twister.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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