ELMIRA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The National Weather Service has determined that a tornado did in fact touch down in Elmira on Thursday.
PHOTOS: Powerful Storms Slam Tri-State
A state of emergency remains in effect in the upstate city as crews continue clearing trees and repairing power lines that were brought down by the EF1 tornado, which has maximum winds up to 110 mph.
“This state of emergency declaration will help the state get critical resources to communities that were hit the hardest,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
State emergency officials have been in the area since Thursday night, helping residents cope with all the damage.
“The state is going to do everything possible to ensure that we help them get back to normal here,” said Jerome Hauer with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
No injuries were reported from the late-afternoon storms. About 20,000 homes and businesses across the Southern Tier were without power Friday, most of them in the Elmira area.
Tracy List has a mess in his front yard. He said he heard a thunder clap and next thing he knew a tree was laying on top of his house.
“It took out a couple of windows, the windshield on my Jeep. It was petrifying. It scared the living hell out of me,” List told CBS 2′s Drew Levinson.
The storms toppled trees and downed power lines. There were also reports of isolated fires, roofs torn off small structures, and people trapped in vehicles because of downed power lines. Some roads were left impassable, covered in fallen trees and debris, officials said.
“We come out of the door and look. We see these trees just bending and snapping,” one resident said.
Brenda Freeman was still in the dark Friday afternoon, but said she knows it could have been much worse.
“What could have been even more so, damage or loss of life,” she said.
A shelter was set up at the Elmira Free Academy for residents who didn’t want to stay in homes without power. Hospitals were also placed on disaster alert, but there were no reports of injuries.
Cell service is spotty and officials are asking people to use their phones sparingly so emergency calls can get through.
Because Elmira is under a state of emergency, police have set a curfew from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m.
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