MONSON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- In Monson, the tornado tore through the area destroying homes, businesses, trees, and more.
It also toppled the steeple at the First Congregational Church but that didn’t stop the parish from rallying together following the disaster.
People have come together Tuesday evening for a ceremony in remembrance of the tornado that ripped through this path 10 years ago. Western Mass News spoke with the pastor at this congregation earlier Tuesday to reflect on how his life changed forever that day.
“What do we do with difficult challenges, when something like a tornado comes through and turns life upside down,” Reverend Dr. Bob Marrone said.
Rev. Marrone remembered the moment that felt like a lifetime when the tornado tore through his community, toppling the steeple at the First Congregational Church.
“It was probably all of a minute, but it certainly felt like an hour,” Marrone recalled.
He recalls being with his wife at his parsonage when disaster struck others scrambling for safety with him.
“We did have people that ran into our basement to hide,” Marrone said.
It’s a moment that he said changed him as a person and transformed what he calls his pastoral authority, his ability to act as pastor in times of need.
“The tornado called upon me to step up in a way that was probably not in my comfort zone, but it’s what needed to happen, and that’s what we did,” Marrone explained.
He will never forget how the community wasted no time helping one another.
“People were showing up with all kinds of stuff; somebody showed up with a box of hamburgers. During the prayer service, they were cooking outside,” Marrone said.
His congregation rallied behind the community with housing, food, clothes, and more.
“20,000 meals we estimated went through our kitchen in a month,” Marrone said.
Marrone still struggles with the effects of that fateful day, June 1, 2011.
“I know that for me the trauma never goes away. I know the tornado is not going to get me, but still, my stomach goes in a knot when I hear wind,” Marrone said.
He said it is important to remember, for some, the feeling will never subside.
“The people that went through it and went through the effects of it are still dealing with it 10 years later. It’s doesn’t just go away,” Marrone explained.
Marrone also recalled services resuming the next day after the tornado. He has not been back to Monson since leaving the parish four years ago to join Union Congregational Church in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
However, he prays for the families and residents here in Monson that are still dealing with the fallout from the tornado.