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Suffolk County Resident 'Blessed To Be Alive' After Historic Storm, Tornadoes On Long Island

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A record four tornadoes touched down on Long Island, creating four paths of destruction, over the weekend.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, three were in Suffolk County.

A tornado warning appeared on what was a sunny Saturday. Suddenly, there were fiercely swirling winds and afternoon darkness.

"I just sounded like a jet, like right over the house and it just kept getting louder and louder," said John Zeller, an East Islip resident.

"All of the sudden I saw the wall of water and just wind and darkness. So I went inside and I said, 'Hun I think this is serious,'" said Denise Feldman.

It was serious.

Families ducked into basements as massive trees were uprooted in East Islip, zigzagging to Oakdale where trees crashed through a roof, destroying a historic home.

"Total devastation. This is condemned. It displaced a lot of people and it's very sad. In one second, your home is gone," said Lance Levine, an Oakdale resident.

Denise Flores's house in Shirley was pummeled with pieces of a roof sheered off the house next door.

"My house shifted, there's fractures, there's wood impaled into the side of my house, there's puncture wounds all through the walls," Flores said. "When it hit my house, it reached its peak of 110 miles per hour on an EF1 tornado."

The National Weather Service confirmed an unprecedented four tornadoes touched down Saturday on Long Island:

  • Hewlett to Levittown,
  • Islip to Oakdale,
  • Shirley to Manorville,
  • and Remsenberg to Westhampton.

They all showed telltale rotational funnel clouds and a narrow swath of destruction.

In Shirley, planes flipped over. In Westhampton, a Suffolk County road salt storage facility crumbled. The storm also caused more than $1 million in damage to Brookhaven's recycling facility.

"This turns out to have been an historic storm. We have not seen a storm like this... in decades," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Since records have been kept, there's been no tornado on Long Island in November and never more than three in one day.

"This was just a severe outbreak for us, just for any month. So to come in November is especially shocking," said Dr. Jase Bernhardt of Hofstra University. "A very historic event and perhaps one big cause of the event is we have very warm, much warmer than normal, Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures."

Flores is just grateful she survived.

"I don't feel lucky. I feel blessed to be alive," said Flores.

Bellone called extreme weather events happening with more regularity and little warning the new normal.

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