Suspected tornado wreaks havoc across state widespread damage in Brookfield, Southbury, Oxford and Cheshire

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A line of severe weather that crossed through western Connecticut late Tuesday afternoon left destruction, and at least one tornado, in its wake.

A funnel of winds churned through Brookfield and moved east into Southbury, sending debris airborne, Fax Alert meteorologist John Bagioni said in Burlington. Churning circular winds, but no debris, were also reported just north of Winsted, and in the Norfolk area. The town of Brookfield was hardest hit by the storm, where numerous streets and homes remained inaccessible Tuesday night awaiting a task force of emergency services.

“The radar screamed trouble as a cell moved north of Danbury toward Brookfield, where there was a tornado warning,” Bagioni said.

Fire departments throughout the region were on the run for several hours answering calls. In Torrington, firefighters rescued motorists from a floating vehicle on Summer Street in the city. Volunteer departments answered numerous calls for wires and trees down on homes, streets and cars.

The chaotic weather was well predicted, Bagioni said. An upper air disturbance collided with strong southerly winds ahead of it and jet stream winds on the ground, he said. Rainfall amounts varied greatly, he said.

In one hard hit Cheshire neighborhood where at least 10 trees fell, two houses were hit and several other trees blocked the driveways and the road. At one two-story home on Bellamy Road, neighbors said a woman was taken away by an ambulance after a tree fell into her home.

After the storm passed, Shira Rosenblatt of 110 Bellamy Road was out checking on her neighbors. Through tears she she was home alone when the lights went out and she was terrified for her and for her neighbors. She heard the crack of the tree falling onto her neighbor’s home at 120 Bellamy Road, she said.

At the intersection of Sorghum Mill Road mother and son Becky and Tommy Savino surveyed the damage. “It happened in about a minute and a half,” Tommy Savino said. “The storm happened so quick.” An Eversource crew was called to disconnect power to 120 Bellamy Road and others were out clearing debris about 7 p.m.

In Winsted a giant maple tree twisted and broke hurtling through David Arthur’s house at 345 Walnut Street. “It sounded like a train of wind,” Arthur said while surveying the damage. Arthur said he saw the maple tree twisting off its trunk and hid in his pantry as the tree broke through the roof. Bagioni, the meteorologist, said there was upper movement of cyclonic winds near Winsted, but it hasn’t been confirmed there was a tornado there. Just before sunset Tuesday branches hung from power lines that seemed to have been dropped there by the cyclonic winds. There was no power anywhere to be seen. Damage was 30 feet up trees, but not near the ground. “The whole house shook,” Arthur said.

In Torrington fourteen-year-old Angela Zhovkly was playing in her backyard on East Mountain Avenue with her brother when the sky began to darken and the wind suddenly started to blow.
She said she felt one rain drop and a second later it was pouring. She and her brother ran inside the house. About a half hour later, at around 4 p.m., Angela said she heard a loud boom and when she looked outside she noticed that “birds were flying all around out of control. They didn’t know where to go.” Lightning had struck a nearby tree, leaving large and small branches scattered all over the road. Another tree across the street was leaning against a house.

Deborah Kessler, who lives on nearby Gilbert Avenue, said she thought a tornado had come through her neighborhood. She said at about 3:40 p.m., she said she had trouble closing a window the wind was so strong. Large tree branches blocked part of the road in front of her house. “It sounded like a freight train was coming through,” she said.

The northwestern horizon at 3 p.m. loomed ominously dark and green as the wind picked up and rain began to pour down.

The fast-moving storm has knocked out power to more than 117,000 Eversource customers statewide. With tornadoes reported in Southbury and Brookfield, first responders are mobilizing to clear trees away from roads.

Several trees have fallen on homes, including on Longmeadow Drive in Waterbury and in Cheshire. In Southbury, where a meteorologist said there is strong evidence a tornado touched down, trees are uprooted, while others appear twisted off at the base.

Brookfield Police said they are experiencing a town-wide disaster. Multiple streets are inaccessible. Cars are trapped, wires are down and there is no full assessment of what has happened yet. Brookfield is south and west of New Milford. According to dispatches at least 12 ambulances have been requested for Brookfield, and Litchfield County Dispatch is requesting all stations be manned and on standby as resources may be needed for an out of area response.

“We have an absolute mess on our hands,” a dispatcher said in New Milford.

Police said people are trapped in buildings, in cars and in areas that can’t be reached because the communication systems are down.
Metro North has resumed service into and out of Grand Central Station in New York City, but there are delays.

by Republican-American (2018, May 15)

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Kyrie Wagner