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Trees, Power Lines Torn Down, Flights And Transit Snagged By Powerful Storms

Storm System Prompted Tornado Warning At Its Height

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A round of storms ripped down trees and power lines, and brought delays and cancellations to Tri-State Area airports and train lines Monday afternoon.

A tornado watch was issued for the area during the afternoon, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported. No tornado ever touched down, but a funnel cloud was spotted over Paterson, N.J., according to AccuWeather and CBS 2 Weather.

But while the worst was over as the evening rush arrived, the storms left a path of damage in many areas – particularly northern New Jersey.

As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, one family in Fair Lawn, N.J., feared for their lives when a tree slammed right into their home.

The huge tree snapped in two and fell right across the front yard, across a family’s sport-utility vehicle, and right into the second-floor master bedroom at a home on Midland Avenue.

The top of the house was left partially demolished. No one was hurt, but the homeowners were terrified. Homeowner Erin Miller and her daughter, Emma, spoke to CBS 2’s Grymes at the scene.

“It was really scary. Like we just got home from school, you know, we were sitting in the kitchen just talking, and we looked out of the window,” said Emma Miller. “It was like a scene from a movie, you know, with all winds and rain coming by. We heard the crack – from Sandy, we’re used to hearing that kind of sound – we heard the crack and we just heard a crash.”

But the real shock came when they went upstairs.

“Just shock – a hole in the ceiling with rainwater pouring in, and the whole room is completely ruined,” Erin Miller said.

Emma’s room and that of her brother were spared damage, and the two family dogs were not hurt. But the aluminum siding was splitting off the side of the house, and the family was concerned that it might get worse.

As to whether they would sleep in the house that night, Emma said: “We have a lot of offers from different people – very nice people. We’ll have to play it by ear.”

A tree crashed into a home in Emerson, N.J. following storms Monday. (Credit: CBS 2)

A tree crashed into a home in Emerson, N.J. following storms Monday. (Credit: CBS 2)

As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, another tree fell Monday afternoon on Colonial Road in Emerson, N.J., narrowly missing the bedroom where Cooper Sfarra was sleeping in his crib.

“He was taking his nap and the ceiling came in from the tree, and it missed him by 6, 7 inches,” said Cooper’s grandfather, Fred Sfarra. “I thought the worst, but thank God, here he is — just missed the crib.”

Cooper’s grandmother, Carol Sfarra, told 1010 WINS a “big piece of ceiling” came into her grandson’s crib, “but didn’t touch him – we don’t believe – and thank God.”

Neighbor Kim Bollbach said the tree that fell on Sfarra’s house had been checked since the last big storm. She could feel the large limb.

“I was in my garage trying to very quickly pull down the garage door, but I had no power. Then by the time I made it through my house, I looked out the window and I saw branches,” she said. “I was like, uh-oh.”

The storms also took down power lines in Emerson, sparking a fire and blocking the road. No one was injured, but a total of 1,400 customers were left without power.

Nearby, a porch was flattened by a huge tree after being sheared right off the front of a home — taking down the power lines with it.

David Woletz of Emerson told Rincon he also had a tree fall on his property.

“The trees – it looked like they were pointing straight out sideways,” he said. “One hit my house and my shed, but no real damage.”

And yet another house was left uninhabitable by a tree that crashed into it in Cresskill, N.J., WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

“I saw the tree in the back come through and knock down the chimney,” said Cathy Campbell, who lives across Jefferson Avenue from the house that was struck, “and I just made a mad dash for the woman across the street, who was in bed.”

Phyllis Billings lives next door. She said she also quickly attended to the victim, who is over 80 years old.

“She seemed fine – a little shaken up – but I spoke when she and her husband, they both said it scared them very much, but they seemed OK,” Billings said.

The woman who lived in the house declined a trip to the hospital. The massive tree snapped about 4 feet from the house, and which was declared unsafe.

Trees down at Franklin Place and Spencer Drive Paramus, N.J. (Credit: CBS 2)

Trees down at Franklin Place and Spencer Drive Paramus, N.J. (Credit: CBS 2)

Severe damage was also seen in Paramus, N.J. As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, a line of more than a dozen trees came crashing down around 3 p.m. off East Ridgewood Avenue, and a tree also came down in the driveway of a house.

PHOTOS: STORM DAMAGE ON OCT. 7, 2013

UP-TO-DATE RADAR | YOUR LATEST FORECAST | TRAFFIC AND TRANSIT DELAYS | WCBS 880 | 1010 WINS

Residents said the wind was gusting at 60 mph at the time.

And in Dix Hills, Long Island, a car was crushed by a falling tree. The driver narrowly escaped injury.

In Midtown, winds from the storm terrified pedestrians following a crane mishap on West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. A yellow concrete weight weighing about 13,000 pounds was left dangling nearly 20 stories above the street for about 8 1/2 hours before it was finally lowered to the ground at 3:30 p.m.

The incident happened at One57, the same location where a crane boom collapsed during Superstorm Sandy, leaving the wreckage dangling and blowing in the wind.

Tree down in Cresskill, NJ (Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Tree down in Cresskill, NJ (Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

The storm also brought multiple delays and cancellations on the NJ TRANSIT train system. Overhead wire problems threw a snag in the Morris & Essex and Montclair/Boonton lines in particular.

“Rail service has been restored on the Gladstone Branch after approximately an hour and 15 minutes of being out of service due to overhead wire problems,” NJ TRANSIT John Durso, Jr. told WCBS 880 around 5:30 p.m. on Monday. “Rail service has been restored and is operating with residual delays of up to 30 minutes.”

NJ TRANSIT was offering systemwide cross-honoring for bus, rail and light rail tickets Monday night due to the severe weather conditions.

Delays were also reported at all major area airports. A traffic management program was in effect Monday afternoon at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, and LaGuardia airports.

Emerson Storm Damage

Storm damage on Colonial Road in Emerson, N.J. (Credit: Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS)

As of 5 p.m. Monday, delays at Newark Liberty were averaging 2 hours and 39 minutes for arriving flights, and delays at LaGuardia were averaging 2 hours and 12 minutes for arrivals and up to 1 hour and 14 minutes for departures. At JFK, delays averaged 1 hour and 46 minutes for arrivals, and up to 1 hour for departures.

By 10:15 p.m., arrivals and departures were back to normal at JFK, but delays of about 2 hours persisted at LaGuardia and Newark.

Widespread power outages were reported across the Tri-State Area. As of the 11:45 p.m. hour, Jersey Central Power & Light had about 780 customers in the dark, down from 4,700 — with Morris County hit hardest, 1010 WINS reported.

Public Service Enterprise Group in New Jersey had about 500 customers without power.

The Long Island Power Authority reported 366 customers out, while Con Edison reported just 13 customers without power in New York City and Westchester County as of 11:45 p.m.

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