Clean up Progressing after 2011 Tornado in Western Massachusetts

Until June 1, 2011, Hampden, Massachusetts residents Carol and Chip Keeney lived peacefully surrounded by four acres of forestry. It only took 30 seconds on that day for their lives to drastically change. An EF3 tornado ripped through more than three acres of their land taking hundreds of trees and privacy with it. Carol Keeney stated that she has “never been so scared and sad at the same time. This tornado took what we envisioned and destroyed it.”

Downed trees blocking driveway. Photo courtesy of Carol Keeney

On June 1, 2011, the National Weather Service spotted an unusual weather pattern in the Northeast. This weather pattern brought four tornadoes, one of which was a long-track EF3 that took nearly a 47-mile journey through Massachusetts towns and forests. When it was over, more than 10,000 acres of land were leveled, 4 people were killed and created $175 million in damage. The Keeney family of Hampden, Massachusetts were far from spared from the nightmare that they will experience for a lifetime.

Current state of driveway after five years of cleanup. Photo courtesy of Danielle Viens

Five and a half years later, progress has been made on cleanup and rebuilding, but for some, like the Keeney’s, progress has been exceptionally slow.

“We have been doing this by ourselves with what we have,” says Carol. She went on to explain that the friends and neighbors have been wonderful in helping and though it is taking a while, they know that it is being done to their standard.

Trees unfortunately are still uprooted and after five and half years, they are finally beginning to clean up the back side of the home. A former logger named Jack Trickey said “you have to take it slow with cleaning up these trees because of how
they are programmed. They may be bent over but as soon as you begin to chainsaw them, they pop right back up.” He has been helping the family through this ordeal since the beginning. He has seen great progress since then and insists the family has more firewood than they know what to do with.

It has been a mere five and a half years since this tornado devastated their land and the Keeney’s have not once given in to the hard work. “I am grateful for the fact the tornado jumped over my home, that we have amazing friends and neighbors willing to help us and that our lives were spared,” said Carol.

With such a positive attitude, the Keeney’s will complete their clean up successfully and will have plenty of stories for years to come.


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