Worcester, MA Terrible Tornado Death And Damage, June 1953

Destruction from the tornado, photo from thebostonchannel.com Assumption College after the tornado, photo from thebostonchannel.com




Worcester, June 10 (UP) -- New England's worst tornadoes in history left thousands shocked and homeless today, damage in the millions of dollars and a steadily rising death toll.
The death toll climbed to 80 with 71 identified. Six unidentified bodies were at a hospital morgue here and three at a Shrewsbury funeral home. Thus the nation's three-day twister toll waas 234, with 154 having died in tornadoes in Nebraska and the Ohio-Michigan area.
Hardest hit by the New England tornadoes was Worcester county, a textile and manufacturing center, where estimates of injured ran up to 700. Thousands of homes were wrecked and property loss was estimated in the millions of dollars.
Elsewhere, a comparatively "minor" twister snarled through the Franklin-Wrentham section of Massachusetts, damaging scores of buildings, sending 35 persons to hospitals, and hurling hailstones "as big as snowballs." A twin-funnel monster also demolished a dozen building and a country club at Exeter, N. H.
Meteorologist CHARLES F. BROOKS, of the Harvard observatory at Milton said the New England tornadoes were spawned by the same squall line as those in the west. He said the worst previous tornado in New England occurred Aug. 9, 1878, in Wallingford, Conn., when 34 were killed.
But these were mere pygmies compared to the blast that chewed along a 25-mile strip from Petersham to Southboro, Mass., leaving at least 10,000 shocked and homeless -- dependent on improvised "dormitories" for shelter and on soup kitchens for food.
Flee To Cellar.
Perhaps the first to see the impending disaster were MR. and MRS. GEORGE JONES of Petersham, standing together by the picture window of their home overlooking the Hardwick Hills. They fled for the cellar as the inky funnel thundered closer, and heard the barn yanked from its foundations.
Then the twister roared on through Barre, Rutland, Holden, into Worcester's North End and beyond. Automobiles somersaulted off their wheels, bounding crazily and rolling in the streets like rubber balls.
Whistling through the air were roofs, pigs, cows, bricks, pianos and entire buildings, turning the region around New England's third largest city into a nightmarish Alice in Wonderland world.
A dress from a shop window was carried 45 miles away to land on a suburban Boston lawn. Another Bostonian found a bundle of shingles from a Worcester lumber yard in his driveway. Some debris landed at seaside Wollaston.
A bus overturned, killing one passenger and injuring others. Flying wood decapitated a Shrewsbury woman. A neighbor was killed when the post office collapsed. Children huddled at their mothers' skirts were crushed beneath falling walls. Elderly persioners at the Worcester Home farm were killed as walls collapsed.
Four Religious Killed.
It was near Vespertide when the storm plunged on Assumption college, leveling a dormitory, cracking a spire and killing a priest and three nuns.
Gov. CHRISTIAN A. HERTER of Massachusetts immediately declared the county a disaster area so that town officials might draw immediately on emergency state funds. He also called in National Guardsmen to swell the growing army of relief workers poring into the county with rescue and relief equipment.
The Worcester city council met in an emergency midnight session, naming a seven-man disaster appraisal committee headed by EVERETT F. MERRILL, the governor's economic adviser. They were to report back to the council to determine whether the governor should be asked to request President EISENHOWER to proclaim the county a federal disaster area.
Wreckage of poles, trees, broken homes and twisted live wires made highways and streets virtually impassable. In Worcester, disaster workers had to fight their way through, carrying the dead and maimed.
Hospital morgues overflowed, spilling their victims into adjacent rooms where the bodies were hastily covered with sheets while nurses and doctors tended the injured.
Outside, lines formed, tearful parents seeking children, husbands seeking wives, the living identifying the dead.
State police in radio equipped cars improvised communication services in an area where telephone lines were gone. In all some 6,800 telephones were out of order.
Five American Red Cross disaster experts were dispatched from Alexandria, Va., along with a crew of nurses. Some 300 units of plasma and whole blood were rushed in from nearby banks along with a blood-mobile to handle donors answering constant radio appeals.
The twister buckled a huge section of the Norton Co.'s new $6,000,000 plant, the roof falling on 40 automobiles and crushing them like paper. Only minutes previously more than 100 workers had left the plant, where damage was estimated at $1,000,000.
From Westboro came a report that MRS. TIMOTHY F. CAHILL had been killed by an oil drum, fired by wind with the force of a cannon shot.
Ground to Matchwood.
A block-long section of Worcester's great Brook Valley housing project was ground to matchwood.
Workers at the Diamond Match Co. lumber yard, surveying $500,000 damage to that plant, told of watching an automobile sail over an eight-foot fence and land upside down on the Assumption college lawn.
Maj. GERALD O'CONNOR, an Army officer stationed at Worcester, fled with his wife and 3-year-old son to the cellar of their home while the roof blew away in a wind that sounded to him "like a skyful of planes."
All schools in the area were closed for the rest of the week so the buildings might shelter the homeless. Churches and other undamaged public buildings were pressed into service.

Worcester, June 10 (UP) -- The United Press list of identified dead in the Massachusetts tornadoes:
ANDERSON, MRS. ANNA, of 59 Humes avenue, Worcester.
ARONSON, EDWARD J., of Westboro.
ARONSON, MRS. EDWARD J., of Westboro.
ARONSON, MISS SHEILA, 15, of Westboro (daughter of MR. and MRS. EDWARD J. ARONSON).
ASLANIAN, NANCY, 5, of 40 Randall street, Worcester.
BEEK, ALICE, of Fairchild drive, Holden.
CAHILL, MRS. TIMOTHY F., 42, of Flanders road, Westboro.
CLEMENT, BEVERLY, 8, of 147 Uncatena avenue, Worcester.
CLEVELAND, MRS. HERBERT, of 333 Burncoat street, Worcester.
DALY, LAWRENCE, of 71 Main street, Shrewsbury.
DALY, MRS. LAWRENCE, of 71 Main street, Shrewsbury.
DIVINCO, REV. ENGELBERT E., 65, A. A. head of the French department at Assumption college, Worcester.
DAGOSTINO, FRANK, of 45 Yukon avenue, Worcester.
DAGOSTINO, MRS. FRANK, of 45 Yukon avenue, Worcester.
DE MARCO, JAMES, of 3 Southgate terrace, Worcester.
DE MARCO, JANICE, address unknown.
ERICKSON, HAROLD, 32, 62 Rowenn street, Worcester.
ECKLER, (no first name) of Holden, who died at Holden district hospital.
FALCONE, JOSEPH, 59, of 44 Humes avenue, Worcester.
FALCONE, LILLLIAN, of 44 Humes avenue, Worcester.
FISHER, MARLENE, 3 months old, daughter of MR. and MRS. WOODROW, of 335 South street, Shrewsbury.
GLEASON, MRS. ABBIE, of 71 Pasadena parkway, Worcester.
HANNAH, MRS. LILLIAN, of 151 Uncatena avenue, Worcester.
HAKALA, ARNE, 20 Constitution avenue, Worcester.
HAKALA, (girl first name believed to be ANNA) of 20 Constitution avenue, Worcester.
HARDING, ROBERT, 15, of Main street, Rutland.
HARRISON, MRS. ARTHUR, of 24 Chevy Chase avenue, Worcester.
HUTTON, MRS. ANNIE, 74, of 37 Humes avenue, Worcester.
HUTTON, BARBARA ANN, 6, of 37 Humes avenue, Worcester (granddaughter of MRS. ANNIE HUTTON, also killed).
JACKSON, BEVERLY L., no address known.
JACKSON, JR., JAMES A., 8, of 29 Osceola avenue, Worcester.
JACKSON, ROBERT, 29, of 29 Osceola avenue, Worcester.
JACOBSON, ROBERT, of 29 Scola avenue, Worcester.
JOHNSON, MRS. (first name unknown) of Holden (mother of STANLEY JOHNSON, 434 Shrewsbury street, Holden).
KARAGOSIAN, MRS. ANNA, 32, of 40 Randall street, Worcester.
KARRIS, JOAN, dead on arrival at St. Vincent hospital, no address.
LELAND, MRS. FRED, of 355 Burncoat street, Worcester.
LOWELL, ANN, no address.
MANNING, STANLEY M., of 765 Main street, Worcester.
McDONALD, ETHEL, of Brewer estate, Shrewsbury.
MARSH, DONALD, 30, of Main street, Rutland.
MARTILA, MRS. RAYMOND, Salisbury street, Holden.
MASON, MRS. NORA of Stoneham, visitor at Shrewsbury.
MIGUETTE, JEAN PAUL, 30, of 1 Bliss street, Worcester.
MONTGOMERY, MRS. ELIZABETH of 102 Randall street, Worcester.
MORRISON, KENNETH, age and address unknown.
MULHERN, JOHN F., of 96 Clark street, Worcester.
NELSON, ROY, 14, address unknown.
NOBORINI, MRS. INGRADE, 26, of Fayville section of Southboro.
OLSON, KENNETH, of Lake street, Shrewsbury.
OSLAND, (child) body in wreckage of home but not recovered, 2 weeks old, of 361 Main street, Holden.
PETTIGREW, MRS. KATHERINE, of 20 Falex road, Worcester.
PEGOSKLAN, MRS. (first name unknown) of Randolph street, Worcester.
RICE, DOROTHY A., 15, of 16 Longmeadow avenue, Worcester.
RICH, PEARL, 19 Paul street, Worcester.
SANTOM, MR. (no first name available), at Worcester City hospital.
SANTOM, MRS. (no first name available), at Worcester City hospital.
SISTER MARIE of ST. HELENA, 37, of the Assumptionist order, of Worcester.
SISTER MATILDA, of the Assumptionist order, of Worcester.
SISTER ST. JOHN of God, of the Assumptionist order, of Worcester.
STEELE, GEORGE, 14, of Uncatena avenue, Worcester.
STRONG, BEVERLY, 18, of Old Petersham road, Barre.
SULLIVAN, MICHAEL 14, of 100 Uncatena avenue, Worcester.
TRIOLI, JR., MRS. JAMES, wife of postmaster of Fayville section of Southboro.
WHITE, EDWARD B., 13, of Old Petersham road, Barre.
HOWE, THOMAS, of Worcester.
HOWE, MRS. THOMAS, of Worcester.
BARNES, MRS. RUTH G., 40, of 7 Central avenue, Sterling Junction.

The Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1953-06-10

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