STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A powerful, fast-moving storm caused extensive damage on Long Island early Tuesday morning, knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of customers and snarled rail service for Long Island Rail Road riders.
PHOTOS: Long Island Storm Damage
Lightning, hail and winds up to 70 mph moved through the area around 5 a.m. as heavy rain poured at times, downing trees, branches and power lines. In Setauket and Stony Brook, some trees came crashing through homes, and others landed on top of cars.
“Heavy rains and winds and branches blowing all over the place — it was like a little hurricane,” one man told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
“It looked like trees just exploded all over the place,” resident Patty Richter described of her backyard.
One tree wiped out the side of Richter’s home and took out her bathroom and laundry room.
“This is the worst damage we’ve ever seen,” she told CBS2’s Ilana Gold.
Two blocks away, there were more problems on Mud Road, where a 50-foot tree crashed onto Eric Orlowski’s roof. The force of it shattered a skylight, and a limb pierced his living room ceiling.
“I knew something hit the house because the whole house was shaking like crazy,” Orlowski said.
A Setauket woman told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera she heard the howling winds and hail.
“It was very, very scary, just the sound of the pellets hitting the window,” she said. “And it was so loud you just jumped out of your bed.”
— Mona Rivera (@WINSmona) August 4, 2015
Yona Mann and her parents were asleep in their Settlers Way home when they were shaken awake by the hail, thunder and then a crashing of trees, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“(Gusoff: You’re in bed thinking what?) Thinking something fell on our house; a lot of somethings fell on our house,” said Barbara Mann, of Setuaket.
Several large pines and oaks pierced their study, flattening the deck and cracking water pipes.
“An upstairs bedroom is pretty much crushed. The roof is gone pretty much,” said Charles Mann.
Meanwhile, a 100-year-old towering elm split in half and just missed hitting the Port Jefferson home of Susan and Richard Larson.
“We woke up with a sudden thunder and lightning, and it was like right over our head,” Susan Larson said. “We heard a really loud smash, crack, something.”
Neighbors say it could take several days to remove the debris.
“We heard the window explode then a big bang and my daughter was screaming,” Port Jefferson homeowner Frank Lovera told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
With their car crushed, the Loveras watched as massive oaks, poplars and beech trees seemed to explode on California Avenue.
“We got flashlights, we grabbed as much stuff as we could, made sure we got the kids and the dogs out of the house, shut the electric off, and that is when we saw the car,” said Louise Lovera.
Three trees toppled through their roof, narrowly missing the family. Their home is now uninhabitable.
A state of emergency was issued in the village as first responders directed traffic and walked door-to-door making sure residents had food and water, McLogan reported.
The National Weather Service said the damage was caused by straight-line wind, Gold reported.
Check out the damage in this backyard. Every tree taken out by storm pic.twitter.com/n6ZvYQ3WC8
— ilana gold (@ilanagoldTV) August 4, 2015
In Stony Brook, Linda Croley was absorbing the damage at her Quaker Path home — and the impact on the trees.
“You’ll notice looking on the property, it’s not one (tree), but one, two, three, four, five, six,” she told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
All were sheered off at the top.
The storm left more than 40,000 customers without power, according to PSEG Long Island. As of 6:30 p.m., about 18,830 customers were still without power.
The majority of the outages are in Brookhaven, Smithtown and Southold.
Shops in the village of Port Jefferson were closed Tuesday because they didn’t have electricity, and traffic signals were also knocked out, Xirinachs reported.
PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeffrey Weir told WCBS 880 that crews are on the North Shore working on the restoration effort.
“We’ve got about 190, 200 crews on staff. We’re deploying everyone we can to that area so we can get folks restored as quickly and safely as possible,” Weir said. “We would love to say that we’re going to have everyone restored before the end of the day today, but we know with a storm like this, with the significant amount of damage that we experienced, we’re saying about two days that we’ll get everyone back up and running.”
PSEG Long Island has brought in crews from New Jersey to help speed up power restoration, Gusoff reported.
The utility said it expects to end the day Tuesday with 85 percent of its customers restored with power, meaning many residents will still be in the dark into Wednesday.
LIRR service on the Port Jefferson branch is suspended in both directions between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook due to multiple downed trees and power lines west of Stony Brook.
The MTA said commuters should expect some cancellations and combined trains during the evening rush on the Port Jefferson and Oyster Bay branches.
“This is the result of downed power lines and trees along the Port Jefferson Branch blocking several trains from leaving the Port Jefferson storage yard and causing a shortage of equipment,” the MTA said on its website.
As an alternative, Ronkonkoma branch trains will make all local stops from Ronkonkoma through Deer Park and at Jamaica.
No word on when service will be restored.
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