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Connecticut Tornado of 1989

“Anna had just taken some clothes in off the line when the rain started,” Gray said. “Huge drops of rain and darkness and lightning with incredible thunder and wind. It was just amazing.”

Then the trees started falling — altogether, 87 toppled on Gray’s three acres. One fell into the south side of the house. Gray heard glass breaking and suddenly papers and leaves were swirling and flying all over. The children were scared. “I tried to make fun of it,” Gray said. “I tried to be silly. ‘Oh, look,’ I told them, ‘Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.’ But it was more like H. G. Wells. Anna took the kids down into the cellar to sing songs as loud as they could.”

Gray ran upstairs to check on his mother. He tried to open the door but couldn’t. It was glued tightly shut by the difference in air pressure between the two rooms. He shouted to her but got no answer. He put his ear to the door and could hear Claire Gray hollering for help. He pushed. She pulled. After several tries they broke the storm’s air lock and got the door open. “A tree limb had broken the window, and dirt and leaves were blowing all around the room, but she was OK. Three days later though, she was still finding little bits of glass in her hair.”

In the cellar Anna and the children got through “Rock-A-Bye-Baby,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “The Mockingbird Song”; then the storm moved up the valley toward the Besozzis. “Three songs,” Gray said, “and it was over. The sky was light, and the air was so still it was eerie. You could hear sirens from somewhere. “When the wind blows now, the kids don’t sleep and neither do I. We all just listen.”

Charles Besozzi watched the storm moving his way and saw trees toppling and snapping. He raised his voice a little and called to Mable, who was in the kitchen with the dogs.

“What do you do in a tornado?”

“Go down the cellar,” she said.

“Well, I’m not going down the cellar,” he said. His 86 years had earned him the right to be about as ornery as he pleased; besides, the storm seemed to split as Besozzi watched. There were two tornadoes now, and they ripped through the trees on both sides of the meadow, skipped by Besozzi’s house, tore the top off his barn silo, and moved on up towards Great Hill.

A while later he walked outdoors and looked up that way. Two hikers were coming toward him.

“There are trees down everywhere up there,” one of them said. “What happened?”

“Damned if I know,” Besozzi said.

Updated Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

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One Response to Connecticut Tornado of 1989

  1. Rick Mc May 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    I was on the air of an fm radio station on the 19th floor of a building in Hartford. Outside I saw black clouds roll by at eye level. I am from Michigan where tornados are common in the spring. I walked next door where the am studio was located. The announcer was also from the mid-west. I said to him, it’s a good thing they don’t have tornadoes in Connecticut. Fifteen minutes the news reports came in.

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