New York area cleans up after strong storms

September 19, 2012 3:06:45 AM PDT
Residents and municipalities across the New York viewing area are cleaning up after a September storm.

A strong line of thunderstorms roared through the Tri-State Area Tuesday, bringing heavy wind and rains, causing flooding and leaving a soggy mess in its wake. The storm also knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents.

In Monroe, Orange County, one driver got trapped in a car until a tow truck driver pulled it out of knee-deep waters. And the Hutchinson River Parkway is cleared and open after downed trees and flooding brought it to a crawl.

Also hit hard were Queens and Long Island, where winds gusted as high as 50 miles per hour. Flooding stranded vehicles in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. In Manhasset, Northern Boulevard had to be shut down in both directions.

The band of storms on Tuesday prompted the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning for southwestern Suffolk County. The warning was in effect until 10 p.m. A tornado watch expired at 11 p.m. for Suffolk and Nassau counties.

There was a different kind of mess in College Point, where a tree splintered in half and fell onto a front yard. In Hollis, a tree brought down more power lines on 191st Street. The tree came down so hard that residents say it shook the entire neighborhood.

"All the sudden, I heard a big boom, and the house shook," resident Gregory Spivey said. "And when we peaked out, that (tree) was there."

The storm also pummeled New Jersey communities as it headed east. Early Wednesday, there's chainsaw and crane work to clean up and restore power.

In Teaneck, utility crews had a tough time working high up to get the juice back on, with high winds rocking them while they worked. There seemed to be power lines down everywhere.

"It was brighter than daylight out here when that thing was on," one witness said.

In Paramus, a police officer was lucky to escape unharmed, when a burning power line began arcing. An eyewitness snapped a photo that seemed to show the police car engulfed in flames.

"I thought the guy might have died, because there was so much up there," witness Joe Puso said. "I was just hoping that the cop got away clean."

The officer did escape harm, and his car was just singed as it was towed away.

For homeowners, the big problems after the storm were lurking power lines and fallen trees, stretched across lawns and roads and plunging through rooftops.

"Branches went right through the ceiling, so in several rooms there's branches through the ceilings and into the attic," one homeowner said.

Wind gusts ripped a facade from a tattoo shop on the Wildwood boardwalk, while falling debris also damaged the boardwalk. And the top of an old oak tree landed on the roof of a home in Ridgewood.

The weather also caused trouble on the tracks, especially for Metro-North commuters. Riders on the New Haven line found themselves stranded for an hour or more during the evening rush.

Heavy rain soaked those waiting on platforms for trains that never seemed to arrive. The reason was because the powerful winds knocked trees onto the tracks.

The storm system also knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in Connecticut.

Heavy rain also led to some flooding. State police said they had to close Interstate 95 in Norwalk in both directions for a time Tuesday night because of the high water on the highway.

At the peak of the storm, more than 40,000 customers of Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating were without power, mostly due to falling tree limbs that took down power lines. More than 20,000 customers remained without electricity Wednesday morning.

No serious injuries were reported, though police in West Haven say they had to help two people get out of a car on Winslow Drive after a tree fell on it.

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