TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thousands of utility customers in New Jersey were without power Saturday night as severe thunderstorms moved through the region.

Most of the outages were in the northern part of the state, which was hardest hit by the storms that contained damaging winds, hail and heavy rain. The storms downed trees and damaged power lines, but no serious injuries were reported.

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Fairlawn resident Jerry Markowitz told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin that he narrowly avoided being hit by a falling tree.

“I just finished putting my recycling in that can and then I moved to the side of the garage where my other recycling is, then the tree came down and it missed me by this much,” he said, demonstrating.

His wife, Liliane, said she thought that the worst had already happened.

“I saw the tree come down and I didn’t see my husband, and I went to open the door and there was so much wind I couldn’t see my husband and I said ‘oh my god he’s dead,'” she explained.

Forecasters said the storms were to continue until late Saturday night, with 1 to 2 inches of rain expected statewide. Severe thunderstorm warnings were still in effect for many areas, but a tornado watch issued earlier in the day for five northern counties was canceled just before 7 p.m.

As residents began to lose power some decided to head for greener pastures.

“It’s awful, it’s dark,” said Ina Pearlman.

Pearlman and her friend, Joan Donow, said that there was no use staying in their homes.

“One wisp of wind we had no light, we still don’t,” Pearlman said.

Jersey Central Power and Light said roughly 8,000 customers had no electricity early Saturday night, while roughly 9,000 PSE&G customers had no service. It wasn’t known when they would have their power restored.

Tree removal experts said they expected to work through the night.

Did any trees fall in your neighborhood? Let us know in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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