WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. — It is peak vacation season and those heading to certain Cape Cod towns may not be getting what they're expecting.
Seven towns are coping with destruction left by two tornadoes.
Experts say homeowners and those renting their houses should do now.
In West Yarmouth, one roof was destroyed, another has a giant hole in it.
Cutter Lane is in shambles.
The situation is enough to send some tourists packing early.
"There's a big group at the end of the street here, five to six couples were renting a good-sized house and they all took off this morning," said Ken Meehan of West Yarmouth.
Meehan's neighborhood was blasted by a powerful tornado that snapped trees along Cutter Lane and Schooner Street with ease. He has some advice for renters.
"Call and see what the situation is," he said.
What started out as a promising week-long Cape vacation for one family has now turned into an experience they'll never forget.
"Definitely one for the books, we won’t forget it, that’s for sure," said Nathan Hewes.
Hewes said his family "huddled" during the tornado.
"When we went outside after the storm, the windows were all shattered in the post office, but the kids were safe everybody was good," Hewes said. "Power was out. We kept them huddled in the middle and I couldn’t tear myself away from the door watching it. It was crazy."
This large family renting beach front property in West Dennis said although their cottage fared just fine, they were shocked to see the serious damage that hit the area.
"By the time we left to head back here, it was like mass destruction, there were trees everywhere, cars were smushed," Kendra Jesus said.
Since their rental was done and paid for, they had to make a tough call like many have. Do we stick it out, or go back home?
"We figured we would give it the night and if we woke up with no power, then we’d consider going back," Hewes said.
They chose to make the best of it.
"We had candles lit, we had a little campfire, we all hung out together," Jesus said.
Their lights turned on late Tuesday night, but they still feel the pain of many who are too far from home and still in the dark.
"A lot of people are like, 'Well, we could cut it right now and get back in the car, pack everything that just unpacked and drive five, six hours away," Hewes said.
It's a tough situation on many levels.
"This is very unprecedented, not the type of problem we are used to having on the Cape," said Jeff Talmadge of weneedavacation.com.
Talmadge has been in the vacation business for two decades. He says his staff is advising rental property owners to:
- Check their leases to see what must be fixed
- Offer gift certificates
- Offer refunds depending on the damage
Even with two tornadoes transforming vacation plans, Talmadge says the goal remains the same.
"Give the vacationer the best possible guest experience you can, and the way you appoint yourself, the way you communicate with people, certainly we are urging them to communicate," he said.
As you peer around this incredible damage, Cape Cod's Chamber of Commerce is reminding people that the tornadoes hit numerous Cape towns, but most are still open for business, and ready to serve thousands of tourists this weekend.
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