MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) – While the town of Monson has pretty much recovered, the landscape was forever changed by the June 1st Tornado.
The June 1st Tornado passed directly through the center of Monson. Many homes were completely destroyed. Trees all over town were knocked down and the bark was even stripped off the trunks of some of them. Many roads became impassable.
Recently retired and long-time town Highway Surveyor John Morrell remembers that day well.
“It took me well over an hour just to get down to the highway garage because every road was blocked with poles and trees, wires everywhere… I ended up driving over some wires on Academy Hill just behind me on Main Street just to get down to the highway garage and call people out to see if we could start organizing, and see how we were going to clean this thing up and open it so that the first responders could react, and to whatever they needed to do to find people.”
Ten years later, the town has pretty much recovered from the fateful day. The building that the town offices and police station were in was badly damaged by the tornado and had to be rebuilt. The steeple on the First Church of Monson was toppled by the tornado and the church sustained millions of dollars in damage. The steeple has been replaced and it cost about $2.4 million to construct a new one.
“So the steeple has been rebuilt it’s made of concrete and houses the cell towers that allow Monson to have cell phone access,” Reverend Peter Johnston said.
After the tornado, the church played a crucial role in helping the people of the community.
“For months and months, they served a thousand meals a day and they got water out to people and were really pivotal in helping with the recovery of the tornado, along with dealing with the fact that the church building had been damaged and they still needed to go forward, Reverend Johnston said.
Homes along Stewart Avenue and Heritage Lane that were destroyed by the tornado have also been rebuilt but the nearby hillside still shows the scars of the tornado’s path.