Tornado changes Wilbraham woman's career path - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

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Tornado changes Wilbraham woman's career path

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)
WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

The town of Wilbraham saw its fair share of damage from the June 1 tornado and while the scars remain for one woman, the storm changed the path of her life.  

Josie Crouch lives just off of Tinkham Road in Wilbraham.  She hid in her basement and heard the tornado pass.

"It was very loud.  It was definitely like they say it sounds, like a freight train and it really does," Crouch said.

That's when Crouch stepped outside.

"The whole neighborhood looked completely different.  You couldn't go down the street.  There were trees down and power lines down everywhere," Crouch explained

Fortunately, for Crouch and her family, they escaped with minor damage to their property. 

"Back here, we used to have an apple tree right there and we use to have a tree right here, they were just completely gone.  There used to be really big pine trees over there, but they fell in the pool. That's a new pool house, we had to get a new one because it was all squished," Crouch added.

In the aftermath of the tornado, Crouch found out the career path she was going to take.  She is now a meteorology student at SUNY Albany.

Just a half-mile away from Crouch's home, the damage was devastating.

Doug and Linda Burr live on Tinkham Road.  Doug was not at home when the tornado hit, but Linda was. 

"I was sitting on the porch and my youngest son works in Springfield and he called and said that there was something about a tornado heading toward Monson and I said I better go in and turn on the TV.  As soon as I got down to the cellar, it hit," Linda Burr said.

Linda came upstairs after the tornado moved through to find the damage was much worse then she first thought.

"I came up the stairs and I said, well the kitchen looks okay, but then I stepped out onto our deck and I said all the trees are gone," Linda Burr added.
 
Not only were all their trees gone, but most of the windows in the home were smashed and Doug's van, with only 5,000 miles on it, had been crushed by a falling tree. 

Even though it's been five years since the tornado came through the valley, not only is the damage scar still very visible, but the memories from that day are very visible as well.

"It was a lot of glass and trees crashing.  We have a walk-out with two windows facing and I peeked and all I could see were trees horizontally. I didn't look too much, I was scared," Linda Burr said.

For Doug and Linda, the rebuilding process took a long time due to all the damage.

"Probably a good two years. We had to have a whole new lawn put in and all the landscaping.  We had a big field that we had to have all the trees removed and all the stumps taken out. Everyplace you looked, we had to do something new," Linda Burr noted.

With their rebuilding, they added a few features they did not have before the tornado hit. 

"We got a putting green, but I got a waterfall," Linda Burr said.

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