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Tornado Rips Through Suburban New York

Commercial Building Partially Collapses

POSTED: 9:11 am EDT July 13, 2006
UPDATED: 9:17 am EDT July 13, 2006

A tornado struck suburban New York on Wednesday, and the twister was caught on tape by a cell phone camera.

A truck was thrown onto gasoline pumps, a commercial building partially collapsed and a hotel's roof was ripped off when the twister struck, a Westchester County official said.

Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to county Executive Andrew Spano, said the tornado touched down in Mount Pleasant about 4:10 p.m.

A tornado was also reported in Tarrytown, while waterspouts were reported near the Tappan Zee Bridge and 10 miles south of Stratford. Trees snapped in half and toppled, with some pulling down wires and others crushing cars. According to the National Weather service, a tornado touched down about 3:50 p.m.

"All of a sudden, I saw the funnel (cloud)," said Loretta London. "Trees were going back and forth."

The tornado twisted away from London's home on Wilson Park Drive, but it did head for her neighbor's house.

The commercial building that was destroyed housed California Closets. Tolchin said it was decimated, with the sides pulled down and the windows and doors blown out.

"It looks like the twister went in one side and out the other," she said.

The Comfort Inn next door lost part of its roof.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Ciemnecki said reports of a tornado in Westchester had come in but hadn't been confirmed. He said the service would have to assess the level of damage done to determine whether a tornado had touched down.

There were no reports of serious injuries or fatalities or of people trapped because of the extreme weather, Tolchin said.

"It is an absolute miracle that no one was lost or injured," she said. "It's amazing when you see the devastation."

Severe weather knocked out power to more than 4,000 Westchester residents, said Consolidated Edison utility spokesman Chris Olert, and hundreds of employees were out assessing damage in Tarrytown, Pleasantville and other parts of the county.

The weather also knocked down trees and caused damage to houses.

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