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Storms carve path of destruction in East

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:15 p.m.

SMITHFIELD, N.Y. — Residents of this rural central New York town on Wednesday picked through debris from homes battered by a deadly tornado, and utility crews worked to restore power in several Eastern states hit by severe storms.

In all, five people died on Tuesday as strong thunderstorms blew down buildings, trees and utility lines and left hundreds of thousands without power into Wednesday.

Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley said Kimberly Hilliard, 35; her 4-month-old daughter, Paris Newman; Virginia Warner, 70; and Arnie Allen, 53, were killed in the rural town of Smithfield, between Utica and Syracuse.

He said four homes were destroyed and numerous others were damaged, with Allen's two-story home blown hundreds of feet before it landed on an unoccupied house.

In Manchester, Md., a tree fell at the River Valley Ranch summer camp, killing one child and injuring six headed to a shelter.

Tornadoes touched down in Ohio and Pennsylvania, too.

Barbara Watson, the meteor-ologist leading the National Weather Service survey team in New York, said the Smithfield tornado's wind was at least 100 mph and certainly reached undetermined higher speeds.

Gary M. Sprague lives across the street from Hilliard's property, where three vehicles were partially buried in some of the wreckage from the torn-apart house. Wood from the home's framing and walls was scattered around the lawn, and a hot tub sat amid the rubble.

Sprague's home was untouched, but he said he knew immediately afterward that things were bad at his neighbor's.

“If they were in it, they had to be gone,” he said. “You can only assume the worst at that point. This is horrible, just horrible.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said several other central and northern New York counties were damaged but added it was “nothing like what happened here in Madison County.”

Scattered thunderstorms were forecast for upstate New York on Wednesday afternoon, but no watches or warnings were issued. About 35,000 utility customers across New York were without power in the evening.

Forecasters confirmed that at least two tornadoes hit Pennsylvania, where more than 350,000 customers lost power at the peak of the storms. The weather service said a tornado touched down Tuesday evening near New Albany in the northeastern part of the state. The other was in Hoagland in Mercer County. As of Wednesday evening, more than 45,000 homes and businesses were without power in Pennsylvania, more than half of them in the Philadelphia suburbs.

The National Weather Service said three small tornadoes touched down in northeastern Ohio, causing minor damage. Utilities in the Baltimore-Washington area reported about 34,000 power outages.

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