Roof torn off Yarmouth hotel as high winds, tornado strike

No injuries, lots of debris after tornado tears roof off Yarmouth inn

YARMOUTH, Mass. — An EF1 tornado with 110 mph winds ripped off a hotel roof, downed trees that blocked roads, and knocked out power to thousands on Cape Cod on Tuesday during the peak of tourist season.

The National Weather Service says the tornado began in Yarmouth & ended in Harwich.

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The tornado struck Yarmouth just after noon, according to the National Weather Service, which along with the state Emergency Management Agency sent a survey team to the scene to assess the damage and the tornado's strength.

No injuries were reported.

The Cape Sands Inn in Yarmouth was condemned by building inspectors after its roof was ripped off and deposited in the back of the building. Guests were being relocated to other hotels.

Jason Couse, on vacation with his family, said he first noticed the roof rising up and down.

He told media the family "quickly ran to the bathtub and covered up and next thing I know, it started pouring in the house, pouring in the hotel."

The manager came and brought them to the lobby.

Bruce and Diane Martin had checked into their room for a three-day getaway just minutes before the storm started.

Not five minutes after they had settled in, the inn's flagpole had bent sideways and they watched as the wind lifted and carried the roof "in slow motion" into the backyard.

"The wind got underneath the overhang, and in slow motion, boom! Threw the roof in the back yard," Bruce Martin said.

Jason Couse and his daughter are from Belchertown. They were in Room 219 when all of a sudden, the roof above them was gone.

"Panic, scared. Tried to get everyone into the bathroom for safety," Couse said. "All of a sudden we started hearing rain inside and looked out and it was pouring. Our bathroom was flooded."

Repairs started early in the evening, while the motel owner worked to relocate guests.

"Luckily at the time, most people were not in the room.  Two of my housekeepers were in but 
nothing happened to them which is great," said motel owner George Kashem.

Harwich declared a state of emergency and police urged people to stay off the roads during the cleanup.

Electric utility Eversource reported about 50,000 power outages around the state, most on Cape Cod, with Chatham, Dennis and Harwich the hardest hit. More than 90 percent of customers in Harwich and Chatham lost power at one point.

By 7 p.m. Wednesday, there were 18,545 customers without power, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The weather service had issued a tornado warning for the Cape and Martha's Vineyard late Tuesday morning.