WNYT.com

Tornado warning taken seriously in Berkshires

Posted at: 05/21/2013 11:26 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 8:46 AM
By: Dan Levy

The dark sky reminded people of a tornado that touched down in the area, back in May, 1995.
The dark sky reminded people of a tornado that touched down in the area, back in May, 1995.

GREAT BARRINGTON - Once a tornado warning was posted in Berkshire County late Tuesday, people there began hunkering down, not just because of the recent deadly storm in the nation's midsection, but also because of what happened in their own community less than a generation ago.

It's known as the Memorial Day Tornado of 1995; a powerful F4 twister that left three people in the Berkshires dead, and caused $24 million in damage.

"I just remember when I was a kid, the tornado that went through Great Barrington, so I was afraid that would happen again," said Laura Smith, who was at home Tuesday afternoon when he phone rang. "We were supposed to get into the basement because the town called and said that that's what we were supposed to do."

Smith says her family was following the storm's radar track at home and knew that anything serious had bypassed them. But not everyone knew what Laura knew.

When the skies darkened, and heavy rains and hail began pelting the region, Devin O'Brien was in a hospital emergency room.

"I was a little bit concerned," O'Brien admitted, "I didn't really want to wait any longer in the hospital. They didn't want to let people out for a while."

Blair Melvin and his family came visiting the Berkshires from New Brunswick, Canada. He says after seeing what's happened in Oklahoma, there was a little bit of tension for his family.

"We were wondering where we should go if something did happen," Melvin said.

Diana Koons and her husband traveled from Maryland, not really expecting a tornado warning in New England, but not panicking either.

"We were staying in a little condo, on the second floor, so we went down to the first floor just in case," Koons says.

When all was said and done, trees were toppled, power lines were down, and some roads were closed, but there were no confirmed tornado touchdowns.