Cape residents remember frightening time as tornadoes hit

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. — Hank Cassidy has lived on Cutter Lane for 40 years, but mother nature brought him something new on July 23, 2019.

“There was devastation everywhere,” said Cassidy.

A tree fell onto his roof, several others all around his home and his neighbor’s roof caved in under the weight of yet another tree.

Insurance covered some of the damage but he said the out of pocket expenses were roughly $40,000.

“It was scary it frightened us,” said John Digeronimo, who lives two houses away from Cassidy.

Two pine trees crashed down on the vehicles he and his wife own. They were inside at the time the series of tornadoes touched down on Cape Cod.

Further down Cutter Lane, Donna Hall’s home has been nearly rebuilt she too was home one year ago. When the tornadoes were gone, she tried to leave her property.

“We came outside and the firefighter was there coming towards us climbing over trees telling us to get out of here as fast as we could because a gas line was up it was like you, you know like a disaster movie,” said Hall.

Her chimney was ripped from its place on the roof, bricks tossed around in the swirling winds punctured other parts of her roof.

The total damage was in excess of $190,000 that was largely covered by insurance, Hall said.

“I never thoughts in my career we’d be dealing with a tornado here in Barnstable County,” said Sean O’Brien, Director of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment.

O’Brien’s primary job at the time was to serve as emergency preparedness coordinator, working with MEMA, utility companies and getting resources on the ground to help with downed trees and power lines.

While the Cape is used to tropical storms, hurricanes, and snowstorms, his perspective has shifted after seeing tornadoes here whenever there’s a thunderstorm warning.

“I look to see if there’s any circulation when I get a thunderstorm warning,” O’Brien said.

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