Harwich among areas hardest hit by tornado as power is slowly restored

Widespread tree damage, downed wires affecting power restoration on the Cape

HARWICH, Mass. — The entire town of Harwich was left in darkness after a tornado blew through the region on Tuesday.

It was a weather event that locals say they never imagined they’d experience here.

"We had coffee tables in the back that were just flying around. I expected to see Dorothy with her little bicycle going by," said Ted McGrory of Harwich.

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"I came out and thought, 'It’s like they came through and bombed the place,'" he said. "Stuff everywhere."

Latest on the cleanup in Harwich:

A confirmed tornado touchdown in Harwich translated into 15 minutes of havoc, widespread devastation and a cleanup that's just beginning.

"Things were lifting, carriage thing lifted, fell onto a car. Branches were falling onto cars, it was crazy," said Nancy Adle.

Hundreds of trees toppled, many covering main roads, leading through town with some crashing down onto cars and homes.

The sheer force also took down poles and live wires. The town declared a local state of emergency Wednesday morning

"This is like a warzone," one resident said.

Harwich Fire Chief Norman Clarke said crews had been stalled in clearing the massive mess, waiting on Eversource crews to secure power and deenergize the danger.

“This is very bad, very bad," Clarke said.

"(There's) also a problem with gas. Trees are falling on houses, snapping gas lines, so we are working with National Grid to secure gas lines," Clarke said.

There are some places local authorities still haven’t been able to get to, and some neighbors trying to assist in clearing the way.

"I wish I had made more coffee last night," said Ned Sonntag of Harwich.

But officials here said those lending a helping hand are putting themselves in harm’s way.

"The biggest issue we have right now is trying to get people to stay away," said Harwich Police Sgt. Aram Goshgarian.

"If you don’t have to go anywhere, stay put right now," he said.

Harwich police said in an 8:44 a.m. tweet Wednesday that power outages had been reduced from 93% to 67% and more crews would be working to help clear trees and restore power throughout the day. MEMA's online map showed 71% -- about 11,200 total customers -- still without power at 9:15 a.m. Eversource's outage map showed just under 71% still without power.