Storms leave trail of brutal damage across area

PIERMONT, New York (WABC) -- The storm moved through the New York City area pretty quickly, but one Piermont man barely escaped alive.

Evan Schoonmaker was in in a driveway when lightning hit his tree and his home.

"I was sitting in the car, and basically everything exploded - I mean, both cars got struck," Schoonmaker said.

Schoonmaker was in his car headed to meet friends when he was stopped in his tracks by the lightning.

"Unless there was a bomb in my driveway, that would've been the alternative. It was loud and bright," he said.

Inside his house, his wife and son heard the boom.

"It was the loudest thunder you ever heard, because it was an explosion on my house," added Laura Zaino.

Schoonmaker tells Eyewitness News the strike hit his home, blowing up an electrical box. The lightning also hit a tree that split in half.

They weren't the only ones who felt the power of the storm - in Orange County, wind blew down a tree on South Street in Middletown, knocking out power, and barely missing several homes. On Route 211 in Wallkill, traffic was backed up because of downed power lines. In the Village of Walden, more power lines and trees were thrown to the ground by strong winds.

"It was pretty quick, came down pretty fast, wasn't very prolonged, which was good, but it was loud, frequent lightning, some small hail," says John Revella.

Despite the damage, the storm left Schoonmaker thankful he barely escaped the lightning and winds with his life. The tree could have crushed him.

"The guys who looked at the tree said that it had been secured once before with a cable, and had that cable not been there when the tree broke, it would have fallen into the driveway," Schoonmaker adds.

Repair work is needed, but he and his family are still here to talk about it.

"You do not take any moment for granted - I tell people that all the time. No moment is guaranteed," said Zaino

Crews secured the tree, but workers will have to take another look at it on Sunday, along with work on repairing damage to the home.
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