NEW YORK (AFP) – Massachusetts was under a state of emergency after at least two tornadoes hit the northeastern US state late Wednesday, leaving four people dead, officials said.
Governor Deval Patrick declared the state of emergency “in response to the impacts of the tornadic activity and severe weather,” his office said.
“The severity and magnitude of the tornadoes we saw today is unprecedented in Massachusetts,” Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Scott MacLeod told AFP.
“On an annual basis, we expect to see one, two or three tornado watches or warnings but certainly the impacts we’ve seen as a result of today tornadoes is extremely severe,” he said, confirming the four deaths due to the twisters.
In response to the declaration, the state’s national guard activated 1,000 service members to assist in response and rescue efforts.
The governor “will bring whatever state resources to bear necessary to ensure the safety of all Massachusetts residents,” Patrick’s state of emergency declaration said, adding that non-emergency employees of the governor’s office should not report to their workplaces Thursday as clean-up continues.
The severe weather and tornadoes “produced high winds, property damage and widespread power outages in communities” throughout the state, his office said, urging residents to take shelter due to ongoing weather warnings.
About 20 communities throughout the state reported tornado touchdowns, according to MacLeod.
The National Weather Service was working to confirm the strength and severity of the twisters across the state.
The tornadoes came just over a week after a massive funnel cloud struck the Missouri town of Joplin, killing 134 in one of the worst tornado strikes to hit the United States.