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Images emerging from Joplin, Mo., of skeletal homes and neighborhoods transformed into rivers of debris by a deadly tornado transported survivors of a calamitous 1953 storm in Worcester, and their family members, back to that June day.
The comparison, they said, is eerie -- a populated area decimated by a powerful twister that leaves more than 90 people dead. Sunday’s tornado in Missouri is thought to be the deadliest single storm since the Worcester tragedy.
"Whenever you hear of any tornado that goes through like that, whether it's one person who is killed or 100 people, it just brings all of that back, the sadness of it," said Shrewsbury resident Nancy Colby, who was 4 at the time and whose husband's childhood home, where she now lives, was moved six inches off its foundation by the storm, which left chickens embedded in the walls.
Worcester’s tornado haunts City Clerk David Rushford, born two years later. "The look and feel of the city of Joplin is very similar to the pictures that show the aftermath of Worcester," said Rushford, whose parents survived and told him of the city’s resilient spirit, another similarity he sees.
While comparisons exist within the Worcester psyche, meteorologists say there are few comparisons between storms that occurred decades apart indifferent regions of the country, save for the basic ingredients needed by all tornadoes. Twisters, a common occurrence in the Midwest, are rare in New England because the necessary clash of hot and cold air doesn't occur as much here, said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
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