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Still reeling from tornado, Springfield, Mass., now in Irene's cross hairs

Springfield, Mass., has been hit by a tornado, a microburst, and tremors from the Virginia earthquake since June. Now, hurricane Irene could be tracking toward the city.

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Tornado. Microburst. Earthquake tremors. And now a hurricane, to top it all off?

Residents of Springfield, Mass. – having shown their resilience during a series of earth-shaking events this summer – are watching hurricane Irene’s path closely, wondering if they’ll catch a break this weekend.

Heavy rains and winds could further damage homes still patched with blue tarps in the wake of the June 1 tornado that traveled through the entire seven-mile length of the city. On July 26, another tornado warning was issued for Springfield, but instead, it was hit with a microburst – another type of wind event that brought down trees in a smaller area. Then people felt the tremors from the Virginia earthquake earlier this week.

Now, with early hurricane forecasts raising the possibility that Irene could barrel right through the city, officials are prepping in case there’s a need for emergency shelter. Counselors will be on hand if the new storm exacerbates the anguish that many survivors still feel.

“To be honest with you, I’ve already thought of going west in the car – that’s how scared I am,” says Sheila Genereux, whose business, Aquatique Pools in nearby West Springfield, was damaged by the tornado.

She’s been watching the forecast closely, and as of Thursday morning her impulse to flee had lessened. Worried about flooding, Ms. Genereux plans to move some materials up to higher shelves. “I’m sure we’ll just deal with it,” she says.

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