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Early nor’easter is dé-jà vu for Monson tornado victims

Posted by Anna Meiler  November 1, 2011 08:17 AM

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The unseasonably early nor’easter that unloaded about 15 inches of heavy snow in some areas this past weekend left approximately three million business and homes across New England without power at the height of the storm.

For Monson residents, the storm was a flashback to the June 1 tornado. Fallen trees, power lines and debris covered yards and blocked roads.

“It’s like June 1 all over again,” said Gail Morrissey, Street Angel volunteer.

“We’re just getting everything done and now we have to do it all over again. On Sunday, I started hearing chainsaws and I thought, oh no, not again.”

(See related coverage.)

Much of the town is without power, shelters have little food, cell service is limited and gas stations are running out of gas and diesel, said Street Angel Volunteer Coordinator, Wendy DeShais.

DeShais made rounds in Monson yesterday to check on the well-being of residents living in mobile homes who lost their houses due to irreparable tornado damage. She also checked on families who were unable to contact loved ones to make sure they were okay.

Many residents are seeking shelter at Quarry Hill School on Margaret St. though food supplies were scarce. DeShais brought food to the shelter following her neighborly rounds.

“It’s a bad situation,” she said.
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Monson resident, Joshua Farber, said that as with the tornado aftermath, the community has come together to help each other.

“The sense of families taking care of each other, making sure we are all safe, is stronger now that we have a template left from the storm in June,” he said.

Farber also credited the Facebook group, Monson Tornado Watch 2011, created after the tornado, for being extremely helpful as a “storm info and check-in site.”

The group has been instrumental in organizing volunteer efforts and bringing the community together. This week it is serving as a forum for residents to communicate about the storm during a time when land lines are down and cell service is limited.

However, Karen King, founder of the Street Angels, the volunteer group that has spearheaded the tornado recovery efforts in Monson, said that this storm is different.

“The difference versus the tornado is that it’s so widespread across so many towns, there are not a lot of people out helping because everyone’s overwhelmed with their own personal problems,” she said. “Everybody has been affected by this. Everyone’s just trying to stay warm."

“We’re all just so tired. And it’s ruining Halloween for the kids,” said King.

Monson's trick-or-treating was cancelled, according to the Monson town website, which states, “Conditions in neighborhoods, including downed trees and limbs, hanging limbs, power outages and uncleared sidewalks, are too dangerous to allow children and families to trick or treat.”

Monson residents aren’t expecting to get their power back for four to five days. Schools in Monson will be closed until Thursday.

The First Church and the Street Angels are looking for volunteers to help clear trees and debris from Monson properties. To help, you can call: (413) 258-0207

Photo Credit: Stacey Dill, Monson resident

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the authors

Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.

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