Jul 09, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday morning that the storm that killed four people in Smithfield Tuesday night was a tornado.
The round of severe storms that hit Madison County Tuesday evening caused widespread damage in the towns of Smithfield, Sullivan and Lenox. Hardest hit was Goff Road and Northrup Road in Smithfield, where the tornado came through, completely destroying four residential structures, damaging three residential structures and completely destroying one barn, Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley said during a press conference Wednesday morning.
Riley said his office received the first call at around 7:15 p.m. reporting a structure down on Goff Road. After the tornado had passed, emergency crews found two homes on Goff completely destroyed and one home on Northrup Road had been completely lifted off its foundations, carried across the street about 150 yards, where it landed on a second house that was empty at the time, Riley said.
Four people were killed as a result of the storm: Kimberly M. Hilliard, 35, and her daughter Paris M. Newman, four months, were inside one of the Goff Road homes destroyed; Virginia D. Warner, 70, was in the second Goff Road home destroyed; and Arnie D. Allen, 53, was in the Northrup Road house that was carried across the street.
“This is a tragic event that affects all of us in Madison County, not just the victims,” Riley said at the press conference.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also spoke at the press conference after taking a helicopter tour of the Goff Road and North Rupp Road area.
“The property damage in Madison County was explosive in its effect,” Cuomo said. “It looks like literally a bomb went off in a house.”
Cuomo said the series of storms Tuesday night in not only Madison County but also Lewis, Jefferson and Onondaga counties left about 70,000 people without power — 40,000 of which are still in the dark.
Cuomo said the storms in Upstate New York were part of a new pattern of extreme weather unlike anything the state has previously seen. “We don’t get tornados in New York, right? Well, now it’s the new normal,” he said.
Cuomo used his comments to commiserate with the families of the victims, saying that while property can be repaired and rebuilt, the loss of life can never be replaced.
“All we can do is offer our prayers and the warm embrace of every New Yorker,” the governor said. “Madison County has shown again how strong a community can be.”
Also at the tornado scene and the press conference Wednesday morning were Madison County’s elected state officials Senator Dave Valesky and Assemblyman Bill Magee.
“This is a tragic event that we don’t expect normally in Madison County,” Magee told the Cazenovia Republican. “Last year we had the flooding, and now this. I really appreciate the fact that the governor came to see what happened here and maybe help out.”
Barbara Watson, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service’s Binghamton office, said her agency still is working to piece together “exactly what happened with the storm.” She said storm winds were “well over” 100 miles per hour, and the storm will be categorized as at least an EF2-strength storm (out of a scale of EF1 to EF5), if not higher.
Watson said the path of the tornado traveled through Smithfield, east/northeast up to Deerfield in Oneida County.
Three of the four people killed by the tornado were members of the same family. Their relatives have started a GoFundMe website to raise money for the family, particularly Kimberly Hilliard’s surviving 11-year-old daughter.
Visit their GoFundMe website at gofundme.com/b8xnos.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.