Memories are flooding back for people in western Massachusetts on the five-year anniversary of when a tornado touched down, destroying dozens of homes and killing three people in West Springfield and Brimfield on June 1, 2011.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is asking residents and businesses to observe a moment of silence at 4:38 p.m. on Wednesday, the time the tornado hit.
Michael Bynum remembers the day vividly.
He was on the second floor in his home at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Ithaca Street in Springfield when he heard strong winds.
“I remember when the tornado hit the house. I remember the force of it, how powerful it was. I remember being on my back. The next thing I know, I was picking myself off of my neighbor’s front lawn and it was kind of surreal because it was very calm and the tornado was gone,” he said.
Bynum walked away with a few scratches. His dog, Jimmy, who was also beside him when the tornado hit, also survived.
“I figured he was dead. But remarkably, he was literally standing on top of the pile of rubble of the house and he didn’t have a scratch. It was pretty remarkable,” Bynum said.
The tornado leveled several houses on Pennsylvania Avenue in Springfield. Farther down the street from Bynum’s home, homeowners consider themselves lucky.
“We had roof, windows and siding and some trees came down around the garage -- a lot of debris, but we were more fortunate,” Dave Downie, of Springfield, said.
Neighbors still have pictures to remind them of the destruction five years ago and they now say they are happy to see the neighborhood has been rebuilt.
“In a way, it improved the neighborhood. Some new houses were built, the only thing you miss is the trees. You don’t have the large trees,” Bynum said.