A FRIGHTENING STATE OF EMERGENCY RESULTED FROM TORNADO’S, STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS, POWER OUTAGES AND BLOCKED ROADS
Drone photo by Anthony Cioffie, Aerial Platform Photo Productions, Inc.
By Edie Johnson
From the City of Newburgh to Cornwall, to Parts of Washingtonville, Blooming Grove and beyond, portions of any of 3 tornados came into town about 4:15 on Tuesday, about half an hour after cell phones and computers buzzed red alerts. The nearest tornado, touching in Newburgh, bounced, and then sent straight-line winds from its edges and then turned area highways into what looked more like an English Steeplechase Race with a 4-ft line of brush along Route 94 causing drivers to wind their way through parking lots or try alternate routes, while other roadways were simply blocked by massive fallen trees. Meanwhile those daring to make the trek home after the worst was over had to make some serious decisions whether downed lines left enough clearance to drive beneath. A chimney flew down the block on Merline Avenue, shingles and roofing pieces blew though the air while lightning spanned the skies, and leaves and twigs from swaying trees splashed vehicles in green like abstract art. Residents came out to survey the damage to each of their homes and within minutes started clearing debris, still with the rain coming down.
On Liberty Street homes tossed their rooftops into the street. With 78 percent of communities around Newburgh and New Windsor left without electricity, many still not restored as we go to press, schools were closed for the third day this week. The Armory was opened for those needing shelter. Red Cross came with blankets. Water and ice were provided to help those trying to keep their food from rotting.
How this really long, possibly 70 ft. tree at the intersections of Routes 207/208 got wedged between the wires and leans on them without taking it all down is quite the mystery. Equally tricky will be its removal.
Most intersections were left without lights and an eerie gray took over much of the county, followed by a slit of clear sky opening in the west by about 6:30pm. Still without lights drivers courteously watched for each other’s safety, by and large taking extra time and allowing each other space and time to take their respective turns.
It was over, but it was not over. Linemen worked through the night at homes, street corners and mountaintops, and the caravan of utility work trucks and tree removal equipment continues as we go to press, but with much accomplished.
When all was said and done there were 3 deaths, including an 11-year old girl who was slammed by a falling tree while sitting in the family car after just returning home. Another death resulted to a woman visiting from Ulster County when a tree fell on her vehicle as well.
(Photo – Liberty Street fallen rooftops – Michael Lebron)
Officials say there is significant damage to the power grid, and while a massive amount of cleanup has already been done, this storm will have residual damage recovery for months.