Worcester, MA Terrible Tornado Death and Damage, June 1953

Destruction from the tornado, photo from thebostonchannel.com Assumption College after the tornado, photo from thebostonchannel.com

Wreckage of poles, trees, broken homes and twisted live wires made highways and streets virtually impassable. In Worcester, disaster workers had to fight their way through, carrying the dead and maimed.

Hospital morgues overflowed, spilling their victims into adjacent rooms where the bodies were hastily covered with sheets while nurses and doctors tended the injured.

Outside, lines formed, tearful parents seeking children, husbands seeking wives, the living identifying the dead.
State police in radio equipped cars improvised communication services in an area where telephone lines were gone. In all some 6,800 telephones were out of order.

Five American Red Cross disaster experts were dispatched from Alexandria, Va., along with a crew of nurses. Some 300 units of plasma and whole blood were rushed in from nearby banks along with a blood-mobile to handle donors answering constant radio appeals.

The twister buckled a huge section of the Norton Co.'s new $6,000,000 plant, the roof falling on 40 automobiles and crushing them like paper. Only minutes previously more than 100 workers had left the plant, where damage was estimated at $1,000,000.

From Westboro came a report that MRS. TIMOTHY F. CAHILL had been killed by an oil drum, fired by wind with the force of a cannon shot.

Ground to Matchwood.
A block-long section of Worcester's great Brook Valley housing project was ground to matchwood.

Workers at the Diamond Match Co. lumber yard, surveying $500,000 damage to that plant, told of watching an automobile sail over an eight-foot fence and land upside down on the Assumption college lawn.

Maj. GERALD O'CONNOR, an Army officer stationed at Worcester, fled with his wife and 3-year-old son to the cellar of their home while the roof blew away in a wind that sounded to him "like a skyful of planes."

All schools in the area were closed for the rest of the week so the buildings might shelter the homeless. Churches and other undamaged public buildings were pressed into service.

The Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1953-06-10


At about 5:00 pm, the tornado moved into the city of Worcester, alarming many residents. According to eyewitness accounts, the storm moved in extremely quickly, shocking the townsfolk. "I saw it grow noticeably darker," said eyewitness George Carlson, "Then it hit. Houses tumbled, trees fell, and it was all over. The tornado was definitely discernible. Like when you can see the lines of rain in an approaching rainstorm," he added. The tornado, which had grown to a mile (1.6 km) wide, destroyed several structures in Northern Worcester, including parts of Assumption College. Other major structures included a newly built factory and a large residential development. Residential areas were devastated, where entire rows of homes swept away at possible F5 intensity.

The funnel maintained its 1-mile width as it passed throughout much of Shrewsbury, and still did a high amount of damage when it moved through downtown Westborough, where it began curving towards the northeast in its final leg. In the storm's final moments, 3 were killed when Fayville Post Office in Southborough collapsed.[17] Around the time it ended 5:45 pm, a tornado warning was issued, although by then it was too late.