A series of deadly storms and tornadoes ravaged the eastern states on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. NBC News tells us that the hardest hit community was Smithfield, NY, a small town located in Madison County, NY between Utica and Syracuse.
NBC News reports the tornado that touched down in Smithfield, NY was the states’ most powerful tornado since 1950 and classified as an EF-2. Despite New York receiving four or five tornadoes a year, it is extremely unusual for one to classify as a level two on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. EF-2 level tornadoes have winds between 113 and 157 miles per hour.
The tornado touched down in Smithfield, NY at 7:15PM on Tuesday night and claimed five lives, including a mother and her four-month old baby. According to the Miami Herald, the mother was 35 year old Kimberly Hilliard and her daughter was four month old Paris Newman.
The Miami Herald further informs us that Madison County Undersheriff John Ball said that the dead mother was found next to an outdoor wood boiler and a neatly stacked pile of wood (both untouched by the tornado) and the baby was found about 100 feet away in a field.
Smithfield, NY resident Gary M. Sprague lives across the street from Kimberly Hilliard’s residence and said that three vehicles were partially buried from debris from the house and wood from the home’s framing was scattered around the lawn. While referring to the state of the Hilliard’s property, Sprague said, “If they were in it, they had to be gone” and, “You can only assume the worst at that point. This is horrible, just horrible.” Mr. Sprague’s home was untouched by the tornado. Undersheriff Ball said that, “It took a toll on everybody that was here” and “This is a rural, close-knit community.”
The Miami Herald also tells us that aside from the civilian deaths, four homes in Smithfield, NY were destroyed and numerous others were damaged. Among the dead was Smithfield resident Arnie Allen. Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley said Arnie Allen’s two-story home was blown hundreds of feet away before it finally landed on an unoccupied house.
The Miami Herald also tells us that, as of Wednesday afternoon, around 44,000 utility customers were still without power. In addition to the tornado that touched down in Smithfield, NY, at least two other tornadoes were recorded touching down in Pennsylvania where about 350,000 utility customers lost power during the height of the storms. Despite those numbers, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the greatest damage occurred in and around Smithfield, NY.
The Inquisitr tells us that the tornado that ravaged Smithfield, NY residents was the latest in a series of storms to hit the region since late June.
[Image Via NBC News]