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Massive Cleanup Begins Following Tornadoes, Heavy Thunderstorms In Brooklyn And Queens

Tornado damage in Breezy Point (Credit: CBS 2)

Tornado damage in Breezy Point (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Damaging storms that spawned tornadoes in Brooklyn and Queens have turned a normal day of rest into a day of cleaning up on Sunday.

No serious injuries were reported when a twister hit a beachfront neighborhood on Saturday on the edge of New York City and a second, stronger tornado followed moments later about 10 miles away. Residents got advance notice, but the storm still took people by surprise.

“I was showing videos of tornadoes to my four-year-old on my phone, and two minutes later it hit,” said Breezy Point resident Peter Maloney. “Just like they always say, it sounded like a train.”

WEB EXTRA: The Queens tornado in pictures

The unsettled weather, part of a cold front that crossed over the Eastern Seaboard, toppled trees and power lines and damaged buildings as it passed through. Wind gusts reached 70 miles per hour in some places.

Videos taken by bystanders showed a funnel sucking up water, then sand, and then small pieces of buildings as the first tornado moved through the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.

At the Breezy Point Surf Club, it ripped the roofs off rows of cabanas, scattered deck chairs and left a heavy metal barbecue and propane tank sitting in the middle of a softball field, at least 100 yards from any home.

“It picked up picnic benches and dumpsters,” said Thomas Sullivan, the club’s general manager.

In the storm’s wake, broken flower pots, knocked-down fences and smashed windows littered the community of seaside bungalows. Half an hour later, the weather was beautiful, but Sullivan had to close the club to clean up the damage.

The roof of Bob O’Hara’s cabana was torn off, leaving tubes of sunscreen, broken beer bottles and an old TV set exposed to the elements.

“We got a new sunroof,” said O’Hara, who has spent summer weekends at the Breezy Point club for his entire 52 years. “The TV was getting thrown out anyway,” he added.

The second twister hit to the northwest in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn about seven minutes later. The National Weather Service said that winds were up to 110 miles per hour and several homes and trees were damaged.

Tornadoes are traditionally rare in the New York City area, but they have occurred with regularity in recent years. A small tornado uprooted trees on Long Island last month.

On Sunday the National Weather Service confirmed that a waterspout had formed off of the coast of Brick, New Jersey on Saturday morning. The waterspout injured one person when it flipped over a boat that was in its path. No damage was reported on land.

In 2010, a September storm spawned two tornadoes that knocked down thousands of trees and blew off a few rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens. A small tornado struck the same year in the Bronx. In 2007, a more powerful tornado damaged homes in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

More than 1,100 customers lost power Saturday in New York City.

How bad is the damage in your area following yesterday’s storms? Let us know in the comments section below…

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