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Cleanup underway after New York City tornadoes

September 10, 2012 3:52:03 AM PDT
New Yorkers are continuing to work to clear debris after two tornadoes touched down over the weekend.

In Breezy Point, Queens, an EF-0 twister with 70-mile an hour winds touched down on Saturday. It left destruction behind, but fortunately, no one was hurt.

Videos taken by bystanders showed a funnel cloud hurling sand and debris in the air, and possibly small pieces of buildings, as it moved through.

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"It was crazy," said neighborhood resident Joseph Mure, who was in the shower when the storm hit, and went outside to snap a picture of the retreating funnel. "There were a lot of sirens going off. You could see it twisting."

Fire Department officials said there were power lines down and possibly other damage.

Thomas Sullivan, general manager of the Breezy Point Surf Club, said the twister ripped up cabanas and deck chairs.

"A lot of rain, a lot of wind," he said. "It picked up picnic benches. It picked up dumpsters."

Queens wasn't the only borough hit by wild weather on Saturday.

A second twister also touched down in Canarsie, Brooklyn, only minutes later, this one an EF-1.

That one had winds of 110 miles an hour and hit a home, ripping off its roof.

The family, who was home at the time, had to suffer through heavy rains and falling debris.

The tornado left behind cracked beams and structural damage.

Lizann Maher, a worker at Kennedy's Restaurant at the edge of Jamaica Bay, said she saw a "swirling cone kind of thing with something flying in it" come down and then head back out into the water toward Brooklyn.

"It was scary," she said. "We have all glass so we kept saying, 'Get away from the glass!' just in case it did come back around.

The storm delayed play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament a few miles away.

Most people wouldn't say New York and tornado in the same breath, but the twisters that touched down on Saturday are only the latest of about 60 small tornadoes that have hit the area in a half century.

Meteorologist David Stark of the National Weather Service says that in the past five years, there's been a slight increase in the number of tornadoes in the region - to 10. But he says it's too short a time to call it a growing trend.

Stark says the drama of each storm is heightened by people with cell phone cameras and other digital devices that capture scenes of winds up to 110 miles per hour wreaking havoc - as in Brooklyn and Queens this weekend.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS OF STORM DAMAGE

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