WORCESTER (CBS) — When we see storm damage like that left behind in Missouri, it is often the result of several tornadoes touching down in multiple spots. But Sunday’s storm now has the distinction of being the deadliest single tornado to hit the United States in more than half a century.
That’s a distinction that used to belong to Worcester.
It’s a claim most people in Worcester would probably like to see belong to a different city, except that it means a massive tragedy has visited another American community.
“There are definitely people who remember and talk about it as if it were yesterday,” said Deborah Packard, Executive Director of the Preservation Worcester historical society.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.
“Our hearts go out to [the people in Missouri],” she said. “It really is a devastating thing that will have an impact on them for 58 years like it has in Worcester.”
The Worcester tornado struck on June 9, 1953. It formed over the Quabbin reservoir and traveled 46 miles through Worcester County. It killed 94 people in roughly 84 minutes, with winds estimated between 200 and 300 miles per hour. It left an estimated 15,000 people homeless and injured another 1,300.
“It was just a horrible event, and we hadn’t seen anything like that here,” explained Larry Abramoff, who published a book commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the tornado.
“I mean, a tornado in New England is not your everyday event.”
A memorial to those killed by the storm now stands on the campus of Quinsigamond Community College.