Gov. Baker To Seek Disaster Declaration For Tornado-Stricken Cape Cod

baker tornado crop

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to reporters a day after two tornadoes touched down on Cape Cod. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)

HARWICH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — As crews worked to restore power and clear debris a day after two tornadoes struck Cape Cod, Gov. Charlie Baker said it would likely be "days" before the full extent of the damage was known.

The governor told reporters he will seek a federal disaster declaration to help meet the challenges of the clean-up effort.

"We will pursue any and all avenues that are available to us," Gov. Baker said.

No injuries were reported related to the tornadoes, but damage was widespread.

Two Tornadoes Hit Cape Cod, National Weather Service Confirms - Thumbnail Image

Two Tornadoes Hit Cape Cod, National Weather Service Confirms

Tree removal and utility trucks from all over New England arrived on the Cape Wednesday, but after speaking with first responders, Baker said that's still not enough.

"There's a general sense among many of [the first responders] that, a lot of the damage that's involved here, they still haven't had a chance to get in front of," he said. "The sentiment from several of them is, it's going to be several days before they actually know exactly what the scale and scope of the debris and the damage associated with this is going to be."

Baker said his administration now has three goals: finding more equipment for the localities cleaning up debris, assisting residents in clearing debris on private property, and restoring power to homes and businesses.

In Harwich, one of the hardest-hit towns on the Cape, Town Administrator Chris Clark said the lack of equipment is the biggest challenge.

"We have the fire resources and police resources that we need to address this initial crisis," Clark said. "The concern that I have is that there's so much debris. We only have limited DPW resources. We have about eight crews. This isn't going to be a 24-hour or 36-hour [job], this is going to go on, and we need to relieve people and let them go home. I think having those additional resources come in to backfill, is really what's going to be critical to help us get through this."

The town declared a local state of emergency Tuesday, and requested the power be shut off as a precaution. Harwich Police said they were told by Eversource that power was expected to be back up and running by 6 p.m. Friday.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, MEMA's outage map showed over 21,000 customers still without power across the Cape.

Eversource had 375 crews from across New England and New York on the Cape Wednesday, and Eversource President of Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom said they're working to restore power as soon as possible.

"I believe by end of day Friday, we'll have the far majority of customers restored," he said. "I think it'll go into the weekend, as people maybe come to their homes, if they haven't been here."

Hallstrom said the company has a system in place for restoring power in situations like this.

"We're focusing on the main lines, getting the major areas and towns," Hallstrom said. "The areas where the restaurants impact the economy of the Cape, that's our first priority, and then we work into the smaller areas."

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WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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