Tornado-wracked town gathers to hail raising of fallen steeple

MONSON — Dozens of residents in this small town gathered today to watch the spire being lifted onto the steeple of the First Church of Monson.

More than two years after a tornado devastated the town, the restoration of the steeple was a sign that things had been set right, many said, that things were back the way they should be.

“Something was taken away,” said Paul Hatch, a long-time parishioner who managed the $2.4 million project. “Now we’re getting it back.”

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The church served as a rallying point for residents after the tornado. It was open around the clock as people tried to clean up and rebuild. Food and water was distributed there.

The church’s fallen steeple became a symbol of the wound the tornado had inflicted on the town.

Tornadoes tore through Western and Central Massachusetts on June 1, 2011, killing three people, injuring others, and reducing schools, churches, and homes to splinters.

In Monson, residents said the damage made it look like the Central Massachusetts community had been bombed.