The Heat Is Online

Deadly Tornado Leaves Thousands in New Hampshire Without Power

Tornado confirmed in N.H. town 


Baby's cries lead to child's rescue; infant's grandmother perishes in twister


The Associated Press, July. 25, 2008


BOSTON - A state official said Friday that a baby's cries led to his rescue after a possible tornado demolished his grandparents' lakeside home.


The infant's grandmother was killed Thursday in Deerfield. State Fire Marshal William Degnan said Friday that firefighters heard the baby's cries and found him in a void between the flattened home's first and second floors.


The body of the grandmother, Brenda Stevens, 57, also was found between the floors, Degnan said.


He said Stevens' husband, Harley, was blown out of the home.

"He was blown out the side of the building and found in the side yard," Degnan said.


Authorities have not released the boy's name. Concord Hospital said Thursday he had been admitted, but said the family asked it not to release further information.


Neighbors say the couple had been watching the boy while his parents, Harley Stevens' son and his wife, were at work.

Officials estimate that a half-dozen homes were destroyed and 100 damaged as violent storms swept the area.


In Epsom, where some of the worst damage occurred, Fire Chief Stewart Yeaton said his concern Friday was that people not get hurt during the cleanup. He said the risks included the possibility of live wires still on the ground, weakened tree limbs and inexperienced people using chain saws.


"It's still a dangerous situation," he said.


A National Weather Service crew was in the area trying to determine whether the storm was indeed a tornado, as some claimed.


'My life was in here'


Around Northwood Lake in Epsom, about 10 homes in one area were badly damaged or destroyed by the storm, which tossed couches and refrigerators along with downed trees and other debris.

Katie Toll's belongings were scattered around her two-story home, which was pushed off its foundation. A bed ended up wrapped around a tree.


"I'm really just in shock," the 22-year-old said. "My life was in here."

Gov. John Lynch declared an emergency in five counties and called up the National Guard to help.


"It appears that there are at least 100 homes damaged and probably at least a half dozen homes which have been completely destroyed," Lynch said after a helicopter tour.


State Fire Marshal William Degnan said Brenda Stevens, 57, was killed in Deerfield, near Epsom, in one of the homes that was destroyed. Her husband and 3-month-old grandchild were injured, Degnan said without giving their names or other details.


The weather service had issued a tornado warning, and some witnesses described seeing at least one funnel cloud. One or two small tornadoes touch down in New Hampshire each year, meteorologist Kirk Apffel said.


Pummeled by rain


At home near Northwood Lake, Ron Olson described a home not far away.


"Across the lake, there's a house that's just completely leveled. Gone. You can't even tell what color it was," he said.

Olson said the storm began with pounding rain followed by "a wicked, wicked loud noise  like a train or a jet was landing on the roof."


Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham was at the northern end of the path. A cluster of about six summer homes had roofs missing or smashed, some with trees toppled onto them.


"I'm shaken up, but alive. I guess that's all that matters," said Lise Patrick, 64, who lives by the lake. "All my trees are down. Part of my deck is gone. I can see lawn chairs and furniture floating in the lake."


Torrential rains


Downed trees and power lines blocked many roads, delaying emergency responders and utility crews. The storm knocked out power to 6,000 homes and businesses and knocked out telephone service.


The storms also delivered torrential rains to western Maine towns. A funnel cloud was reported in Bridgton, where trees were uprooted by high winds.


"It was raining cats and dogs, and maybe a cow or two," Rumford police dispatcher Tracy Higley said after a downpour in the western mountain town.


The weather service said thunderstorms across much of Maine could produce up to 2 or 3 inches of rain in some areas, large hail and damaging winds that could reach 70 mph. Flood and tornado watches were in effect in most of Maine.


Lightning strikes are believe to have caused outages that left 118,000 Bangor Hydro-Electric customers without power Thursday morning. Service was restored to nearly everyone by late morning, utility spokeswoman Susan Faloon said.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.