A year after tornadoes touched down on the Cape, motel owner is still trying to rebuild

CAPE COD, Mass. — It’s been a year since three EF-1 tornadoes ripped through Cape Cod, bringing sustained winds of up to 110 mph and a path of destruction across several towns.

Two tornadoes touched down in Yarmouth and another in Harwich, just after noon on July 23, 2019, causing widespread wind damage and knocking out power to thousands. Thankfully, no one was injured.

A guest at the Cape Sands Inn captured the moment the tornado touched down at the West Yarmouth motel, ripping off the roof in just seconds during the height of the summer tourist season.

Bobby Khan, who bought the motel in 2018, is still trying to rebuild and the pandemic has set him back even further.

“We lost last season, now we are losing this season,” he said. “I don’t know how we are going to catch up, but we are going to try.”

Only two of the three buildings at the Cape Sands Inn have reopened and Khan says contractors stopped working months ago because the insurance company has not settled the claim for damages.

And with the coronavirus pandemic effectively shutting down the Cape for several months, it’s been a rough year for Khan, who said he had to borrow money from friends and family just to reopen the two buildings.

“We were trying to revive this place from the get-go. On top of that, the tornado happened, and now pandemic happened, and obviously, insurance is not helping either,” he said.

Prior to 2019, there had been only three documented tornadoes on Cape Cod, according to the National Weather Service: Oct. 29, 2018, in Woods Hole, Aug. 22, 1977, in Hyannis, and Aug. 9, 1968, in Sandwich.