Severe thunderstorms packing strong winds rolled through central New York, killing four people, destroying or damaging numerous houses and knocking out power to more than 70,000 utility customers, officials said Wednesday.
The deaths occurred in the rural town of Smithfield, between Syracuse and Utica, after the storms hit at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Madison County Sheriff's Office said.
Injuries and damage from fast-moving storms Tuesday were not limited to New York state. In Maryland, a child at a summer camp was killed by a falling tree. Three small tornadoes touched down in Ohio and at least one other was sighted in Pennsylvania, where more than 300,000 lost power at the peak of the storms.
In New York, at least four Smithfield homes were completely destroyed and numerous others were damaged, Undersheriff John Ball said. More information is expected to be released at a news conference Wednesday morning
Early Wednesday, about 72,000 homes and businesses were without power, most in central and northern New York.
Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley did not identify the victims. He told The Post-Standard of Syracuse he was still notifying their families.
The storm destroyed four homes, ripping one from its foundation and tossing it onto another house, the newspaper reported. Three other houses nearby also were damaged. The National Weather Service said the winds were likely stronger than 60 mph.
Riley said in a television interview late Tuesday that search dogs were being used to go over the rubble at the Smithfield site and that neighbors were being interviewed.
"We're just picking up parts of the house to see if anybody is underneath them," he said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Joanne LaBounty said investigators will be in the area to determine if a tornado touched down.
The spokesman for the emergency management office said there was widespread damage in the towns of Sullivan and Lenox, between Syracuse and Utica.
In Maryland, a tree fell at a summer camp during a strong thunderstorm, killing one child and injuring six others. The children at the River Valley Ranch camp in Manchester were headed to a shelter when a tree fell on them.
The Baltimore Sun reported that a press release from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office stated that 114 campers ranging in age from 7 to 12 were attending a program under a pavilion on a hill when the storm approached. Camp staff directed the campers to an enclosed building but the storm hit before they could reach shelter.
Six other children were transported to area hospitals for the treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, according to the release, and two additional children were treated at the scene.
According to its website, River Valley Ranch is a nonprofit, western-themed Christian summer camp offering overnight programs for children ages 7 through 17.
Doug High, of Manchester, said that he discovered his daughter Kirsten was one of the children injured in the storm when he received a call from a nurse at Carroll Hospital Center at around 11 p.m. Tuesday night saying that Kirsten was being held with a concussion.
"I was told she was running for cover and was struck in the head," he said. "There are multiple camps [at River Valley Ranch] and the one that was struck hardest was Fort Roller … that's typically ages 9 to 12 and my daughter is 11."
Also, severe thunderstorms spawned at least one tornado in Mercer county in northwestern Pennsylvania, and more than 300,000 homes and businesses lost power at the peak of the storms. Early Wednesday, more than 135,000 across the state remained without power, including 74,000 in Philadelphia and its suburbs. The NWS said possible tornadoes were also reported in Perry, Bedford and Sullivan counties in central Pennsylvania.
The National Weather Service said three small tornadoes touched down in northeastern Ohio, causing minor damage, as strong storms moved across the state.
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