South End businesses in Springfield remember the June 1st tornado

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield’s South End was one of the hardest hit areas by the tornado 10 years ago.

Prior to June 1st, 2011, no one would have expected to see this kind of destruction from a tornado in Springfield.

Rico Daniele, Owner of Mom & Rico’s Specialty Market in Springfield, remembers working that day, “We were working in the store, we knew there would be some strong winds but being in the store, we didn’t have the radio on or the TV on, so we didn’t really know we were getting a tornado.”

The tornado ripped roofs off of buildings, and left piles of debris all over the South End.

“The damage was very extensive. I mean, the entire parking lot had two feet debris, the tornado went over Howard Street then right over our building, and continued,” said Daniele.

The tornado destroyed the South End Community Center. The one you see now on Marble Street is brand new. The South End underwent a major transformation after that June 1st tornado. 22News spoke to some of the businesses around here that sustained significant damage, and how this area was able to recover.

Red Rose’s Owner and Manager Rita Caputo-Capua recounted an intense moment with an employee just before the tornado swept over their restaurant, “One employee was by the back door. He didn’t realize there was a tornado behind him. And so my brother Tony and my cousin grabbed him, pulled him in and held on to the back door. They had to hold it and within a few seconds, went right over the building.”

Businesses like Mom & Rico’s, credit the city’s swift actions to help get this area booming again.

“Everything has been better. We have Mayor Sarno, he’s relentless he’s just non-stop,” said Daniele.

“I tell you what I think people thought, ‘That’s it, boom, the haymaker is coming, turn off the lights in the city of Springfield.’ We had a can do attitude, the exact opposite had occurred,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

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