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Tornadoes Avert Tri-State Area, Touch Down In Massachusetts; State Of Emergency Declared

Four People Killed, Hundreds Of Homes And Businesses Destroyed
Massachusetts tornado damage (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

Massachusetts tornado damage (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A massive storm that prompted a tornado watch throughout the Tri-state area Wednesday, slammed into Massachusetts, spawning at least two late-afternoon tornadoes.

Massachusettes Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency after Wednesday’s severe weather damaged parts of the state.

Four people were killed, hundreds more were wounded and homes were destroyed.

PHOTO GALLERY: Tornadoes Touch Down In Springfield, Mass.

The day after the tornadoes, West Springfield was a whirlwind of devastation and debris.  Power lines were snapped and twisted, trees toppled and homes were demolished during Wednesday’s severe weather.  Still many residents were counting their blessings.

“We’re very lucky. I mean compared to people that lost their lives just down the street,” Linda Hanlon told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

Ahmed Ajil lives next door to an apartment that collapsed and came to the rescue of those trapped inside.

“I heard screaming, the kids were screaming. So I just came and pulled the wood from here and then I got them out,” he said.

The storm pulverized or sheared off the tops of roofs on Main Street in Springfield, a city of more than 150,000 about 90 miles west of Boston.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports: Springfield Resident: The Twister Hit Like A Bomb

“When I spoke with the mayor of Springfield yesterday, he told me they had about ten minutes’ warning,” Patrick said.

Residents of a neighborhood south of Springfield’s downtown says they’re just happy to alive.

“All of a sudden everything just turned dark and a big cloud,” said resident Matt Grady. “I could see trees going down.”

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports: Residents In Tears As They Assess The Damage

Thursday morning, residents in the western and central parts of the state were being told to stay off roads as officials begin to assess the damage.

“It looks like literally dinosaurs trampled through the streets,” said resident John Corteen.

In Springfield, up to 1,000 National Guardsmen are patrolling streets to discourage looting. Power is still out for tens of thousands.

flattened car2 Tornadoes Avert Tri State Area, Touch Down In Massachusetts; State Of Emergency Declared
This home on Pine Street Court was completely lifted from its foundation and dropped on a car parked on the street (credit: Al Jones/1010 WINS)

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane In Wilbraham, MA

This isn’t the first time the northeast has been hit by tornadoes. Two tornadoes and a microburst ripped through New York City in 2010, with wind gusts from 80 to 100 miles per hour.

EXTRA: NYC Tornado Photo Gallery

In New Jersey last year, a small tornado touched down, passing through a portion of Plumsted Township, Ocean County, about 15 miles southeast of Trenton.

That storm downed trees and power lines, knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses.

Massachusetts hasn’t experienced a tornado since 2008, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. The last killer tornado in Massachusetts was on May 29, 1995, when three people died in Great Barrington, a town along the New York state border.

For more about the Massachusetts tornadoes, visit our sister station’s website, http://boston.cbslocal.com.

What do you think about tornadoes in the northeast? Sound off below in our comments section.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)