Most buildings damaged from 2017 Conway tornado are rebuilt

(Western Mass News photo)

February 2017, an unprecedented tornado touched down briefly in Goshen before barreling towards Conway.

The first area damaged in Conway was Main Poland Road.

One year later, the Western Mass News SkyDrone captured video of the fallen trees, lying there as if they were just toppled.

Conway Fire Chief and Incident Commander Robert Baker said, "200 to 300 feet wide for 3,000 feet, (the tornado) went up this hillside and there is nothing standing. It's a giant open mess now. It was like a grinding machine went through there."

[WATCH: SkyDrone video of the damage in Conway one year later]

The tornado jumped over Smith Hill and Cricket Hill on its way into the center of Conway.

The devastation in the Pumpkin Hollow section of town was extensive.

Chief Baker said that as soon as neighbors heard there was damage downtown, the fire department started receiving hundreds of calls.

Justus Conant said, "the volunteers showed up and went through pumpkin hollow. It was like an army of ants. There must've been 200 people here volunteering."

Neighbors in town, like Steve Thomas, were anxious to start the rebuilding effort.

Today, town officials say all structures are at or near 100 percent finished, except for one notable building.

Just down the street from the Thomas house, the United Congregational Church is still shuttered after being declared unsafe. Only structural engineers are able to enter the building.

[PHOTOS: Tornado causes damage in Conway]

Following the storm, Reverend Candice Ashenden told Western Mass News the bell tower had shifted six inches from the rest of the building.

The church family now meets each Sunday morning at the Conway Grammar School for services. The fate of the church, at the moment, remains uncertain.

In all, over $110,000 was raised for those effected by the tornado.

Conway's Chairman of the Board of the Selectmen John O'Rourke said, "the most important part of this is there were no deaths. No serious injuries, and if you saw the damage, you'd be totally shocked."

Among the destruction, a new prospective gained was gained by Steve Thomas. "it'll never recapture the beauty it once had. I miss certain things but I enjoy the transition. It's part of life. The social evolution of one's life."

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

First Warning Meteorologist

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