An EF-1 tornado pried off the roof of a hotel building on Cape Cod, tore down huge trees and knocked out power for thousands Tuesday in the middle of the high tourism season.
However, there were no initial reports of injuries. Emergency crews were fanning out across the Mid-Cape to contend with the damage after the tornado touched down in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
The tornado threat was over within an hour of the twister touching down, but the scale of the damage was still being assessed, including by the National Weather Service team and dozens of state employees.
There were more than 52,000 people without power by Tuesday evening, said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who was acting as governor with Gov. Charlie Baker out of the state.
Emergency crews' first step "is to address the immediate public safety issues because of the downed wires and the debris that exists on the road," Polito said.
An emergency shelter opened at 7 p.m. at Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School.
The most striking images of damage were at the Cape Sands Inn in West Yarmouth.
"It sounded almost like a locomotive, just for like a few seconds," said Megan McGuire, who shared video of damage at hotel, where she was staying with her mother.
They sheltered between the beds in their room with pillows covering them, she said in an interview. After the winds passed, she looked out the window and saw the roof was taken off of an adjacent building.
"As soon as it was over we looked outside and the building at the far end, the roof was just ripped off," she told NBC10 Boston. "The building is still standing but the roof is in the backyard now."
Jason Couse and his family were in one of the rooms that lost a ceiling, which he said started with the roof rising up and down.
They "quickly ran to the bathtub and covered up and next thing I know, it started pouring in the house, pouring in the hotel."
The manager took the family down to the lobby, and the storm lasted about 30 minutes, he said. It brought "the loudest noise you could possibly imagine."
Part of the hotel was condemned, and guests weren't being allowed back into their rooms for their belongings. They were given two hotels as options on to where to stay.
The American Red Cross has sent volunteers to the area to assess the need for services for residents impacted.
Meanwhile, due to the extent of the damage, downed trees and wires have made many roads in the area impassible.
Authorities were dealing with damage to hotels along Route 28 in the town of Yarmouth, as well as at City Hall, City Manager Dan Knapik said.
"The initial hours of an event like this with so much damage is often quite chaotic, but we have a great team in town," he said, adding that the town would share updates on its Facebook page.