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Mattapoisett tornado: Here’s what people experienced in the heart of the storm

When Marcia Mitchell heard the warning about Tuesday's tornado, she went to the dining room window of her home on North Street in Mattapoisett to look at the sky.

Her first thoughts were for her granddaughter, who was staying with her.

The next thing she knew, she saw what looked like an electrical explosion at the power line.

“The explosion on one of these poles was so bright, I couldn't see anything in the side yard,” she said. “And it made an awful bang. It was like — almost like a war zone type thing.”

She brought her granddaughter into the basement.

“It was just instinctive to go to the basement,” she said. “And then, when we got down there, you could hear this whir — like a whirring, whooshing noise. And it just went really, really dark, and we just stayed there and hunkered down.”

Twenty minutes later, she came upstairs, and the damage was done: numerous trees down, blocking the road.

“It was really scary,” she said.

Marcia Mitchell, who lives in North Street in Mattapoisett, said she saw an electrical explosion at the power line as Tuesday's tornado passed through the area. She described hearing a whooshing noise from the basement, where she took shelter with her granddaughter.
Jennette Barnes
/
CAI
Marcia Mitchell, who lives in North Street in Mattapoisett, said she saw an electrical explosion at the power line as Tuesday's tornado passed through the area. She described hearing a whooshing noise from the basement, where she took shelter with her granddaughter.

The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down in Mattapoisett at about 11:20 a.m.

The path of the tornado stretched northeast from Acushnet Road to North Street, nine-tenths of a mile long and 300 yards wide. Wind speeds reached about 95 mph.

Later in the day, the agency said a second tornado had hit Barnstable at about 11:52 a.m. with peak winds estimated at 80 mph, an EF-0.

In Mattapoisett, across the street from Mitchell, Sara Lucas said the storm was like nothing she’s ever seen.

She was at home with her daughter, sitting in the living room, when her cell phone sounded the alert.

“All of a sudden, the skies — you could see the wind, and you could hear the wind,” she said. “It was very much like a whistling noise. You could see debris flying around the yard.”

Mattapoisett Highway Department employees worked to clear trees from the end of Tinkham Lane, where debris from the tornado was blocking the entrance to a regional water treatment plant.
Jennette Barnes
/
CAI
Mattapoisett Highway Department employees worked to clear trees from the end of Tinkham Lane, where debris from the tornado was blocking the entrance to a regional water treatment plant.

The debris seemed to swirl in the air, and pool toys from two homes were thrown into neighboring yards in different directions, she said.

When it was over, three trees were uprooted on her property and a fence broken. One tree lay completely across the driveway.

She called her husband, Steve Lucas, who was at work, and by 2 p.m. he had driven home and readied his chainsaw to clear the driveway. Both said they felt lucky that none of the trees had fallen on their house.

Around the corner on Deer Run, a falling tree punched a hole in the garage of Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony’s house.

He said only his dog was at home, and the dog took shelter in a bedroom closet.

Firefighters and a crew from Eversource responded to Tinkham Lane in Mattapoisett in the aftermath of Tuesday's tornado.
Jennette Barnes
/
CAI
Firefighters and a crew from Eversource responded to Tinkham Lane in Mattapoisett in the aftermath of Tuesday's tornado.

On nearby Tinkham Lane, numerous trees fell in front of homes and across the end of the dead-end street, where it enters the water treatment plant for the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District.

The plant sustained significant damage.

Mattapoisett Water Superintendent Henri Renauld surveyed the scene.

“There’s some major property damage along the building,” he said. “We’ve lost a rooftop unit. We have a big hole in the roof right now we’re going to be putting a tarp over. We’ve lost a lot of fencing around the perimeter of the property.”

He said the plant lost power, but water service to homes was never interrupted. The plant serves Mattapoisett, Marion, Rochester, and Fairhaven.

Residents lost electricity, and crews from Eversource were out making repairs.

On Cape Cod, the heavy rains flooded streets and parking lots.

Video footage taken in Mattapoisett by Boston television stations showed trees down on additional buildings and vehicles. One tree sliced through the roof of an outbuilding used for chickens, cutting it in half, according to WCVB-TV.

No injuries were reported.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.
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