Massachusetts surveys damage after tornadoes kill four

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared the state of emergency.

Springfield: Search and rescue efforts continued and thousands in Massachusetts were still without power on Thursday after tornadoes that ripped through the state the previous day, killing at least four people.

The twisters injured at least 200.

The casualty count "hasn`t changed yet, although we have a lot of folks doing search and rescue, dealing with debris piles and things today, so that number could change," Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, told Reuters. "We`ll keep our fingers crossed."

Two teams from the National Weather Service were surveying the damage and severity of the storms that struck central and western Massachusetts during the evening rush hour on Wednesday.

Some 19 communities were hit by two tornadoes that traveled from west to east, bringing high winds, rain, large hail stones, and thunderstorms.

Damage in towns such as Springfield, Palmer, Monson, and Southbridge included downed power lines, roofs sheared off buildings, and cars and trucks toppled.

The Department of Public Health reported roughly 200 people have shown up at area hospitals for a variety of different injuries, said Judge.

"I am not aware of any life-threatening injuries, though," he added.

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick toured areas devastated by the storms and took an aerial tour of damage with U.S. Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown.=
Patrick declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and authorized 1,000 National Guard troops for rescue and response assistance.

The first tornado touched down on Wednesday at about 4:30 p.m. in Springfield, the third largest city in the state, said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

Heavy winds churned the Connecticut River and the area was pounded by hail and driving rain.

A second tornado hit Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, at about 6:20 pm, authorities said.

About 39,000 customers remained without power in central and western Massachusetts early on Thursday.

Some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Springfield included East Forest Park and 16 Acres, said Western Massachusetts Electric Co. spokeswoman Susan Ahearn. The towns of Agawam and West Springfield also had extensive storm damage, she said.

"We are looking at a multiple day repair; it`s not just a restoration, it`s a rebuild," Ahearn said. "We have over 100 crews working on it."

Bureau Report

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