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Facebook Page Helps Tornado-Ravaged Monson

Laura Yarbrough laughs with her friends as she puts on a red coat salvaged from her home in Monson Thursday. (AP)

BOSTON — After a tornado ripped through town Wednesday, there’s still plenty to clean up in Monson.

The town, nestled near the Connecticut border about 18 miles east of Springfield, is small with a population of 8,560 in the 2010 census.

It’s so small that in Monson, everyone knows what’s happened to their neighbor’s house, or their school, or their church. But Laura Sauriol wants to make sure everybody can stay in touch.

That’s what was on her mind as she huddled in the basement with her family as the tornado tore through town. So then and there, the 17-year-old grabbed a laptop and set up a Facebook group, called Monson Tornado Watch 2011.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of people asking questions, making sure their family members, friends are all right,” Sauriol told Morning Edition’s Bob Oakes. “And people will answer those questions and reassure them that everyone’s fine.”

As of Friday morning, the group had 577 members. One of the group’s most frequent posters is Kathleen Norbut, the town’s director of emergency response.

“There’s been a lot of people asking for what they need, if their houses have been destroyed,” Sauriol said. “They’ve been asking for boxes, tote bags, all sorts of things to help them out. And other people are able to bring them what they need.”

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