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'Like a Train Was Hitting the House': Eyewitnesses Describe New England Tornadoes

A rare (for New England) EF-2 tornado has caused significant damage in the towns of Scituate, Johnston and North Providence, Rhode Island. This tornado has become only the fourth EF-2+ tornado to strike New England since 2008. This is also the first EF-2+ tornado to touch down in Rhode Island since 1986.

Damage in Scituate, Rhode Island. Photo: Joanna Bouras

Tornadoes frequent Rhode Island fewer times than any other New England state. On top of this storm, a very high end EF-1 also touched down in Weymouth, Massachusetts Here's how some residents are describing what they experienced:

George Viau of Johnston:

"Oh yeah, how many times have we gotten those alerts? I mean you get those alerts all the time. Who expects a tornado to touch down in Johnston? I mean come on, you know, so I'm glad it wasn't like in the Midwest where the cars go up and Kansas, Toto. You know I'm glad it wasn't like that."

Randy Williams, who was driving on Interstate-295, a highway that the tornado crossed over:

“It hit the backside of my car, which changed the path I was going and moved me over a lane."

David Danella, who was the firefighter who saw a car get lifted off the ground in Johnston:

“Her car was in the middle of its cyclone winds. I guess that’s what you call them. It picked her car up and spun her around like that and then just dropped it back down.”

The driver of this car was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

Devin O'Leary of Scituate:

"About 30 seconds of hell, that's what it was. It got dead silent and then all the sudden the house was shaking and fortunately enough, I have three boys, my mother was here watching them while I was working and we were fortunate enough to get him in the basement and everybody is safe."

Resident of Scituate:

"It was so fast, It was unbelievable. It got silent out here, and the winds stopped, and all of the sudden, things were moving across the yard while I was looking out the front door. I just yelled to my kids, 'Get to the basement!' By the time we got to the basement, it sounded like a train was hitting the house. The garage door was shaking. Then it was over in, like I said, within 35 seconds, 45 seconds."

Meryl Brousseau of Scituate:

"The minute I got outside: Mass tree destruction everywhere. My neighbor’s roof is off completely, my neighbor’s chicken coop completely destroyed. It was very, very crazy out there and very scary.”

John Gostanian of Scituate:

"It was this huge swirl with the winds changing direction. From beginning to end, maybe a minute, minute and a half, and it just took all these trees down. The winds stopped, and it just continued to rain until it cleared up. But everything came down in that one-minute timespan."

Anne Ruzzano of North Providence:

"I was right at my door, and I watched the whole thing happen. It was very windy, like a hurricane-type of wind, and the trees were swaying back and forth. I just waited a second before I went outside, and then, 'Bam.' They fell down, and I was like, 'I guess I am not going to work today."

Linda Resnick:

“I always said ‘I could never live in a place where there were tornadoes. [I’ve] never dealt with one before. I hope we never deal with them again.”

Brenda Galllagher of Weymouth:

"When I looked out I could see sparks coming from the electrical lines, they were bouncing off the street and I was like oh my gosh because that’s what you see in the movies."

Another resident of Weymouth:

"First thing I heard was the wind starting wailing, like they say, a freight train. It really did sound like that."

Dana Albert of Weymouth:

“I witnessed a very powerful wind one direction headed down the street toward Park Avenue, everything was just bent over.”



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