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Cleanup after Brooklyn, Queens twisters; most power back in D.C. area

Cleanup crews followed the paths of violent storms that moved through the East Coast and that even spawned two tornadoes in New York City. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

Residents from New England to Washington, D.C., were cleaning up on a much-milder Sunday after storms spawned two New York City tornadoes and toppled thousands of trees as well as power lines, cutting electricity to tens of thousands.

Below's a look at the damage by area.

NEW YORK CITY
A twister with 70 mph winds formed over water near the Rockaway Peninsula of Queens Saturday morning, then hit the beachfront neighborhood of Breezy Point.

A second, 110-mph tornado followed seven minutes later about 10 miles away.

Residents got advance notice but still the storm took people by surprise, and 1,100 electricity customers lost power. No injuries were reported in either.


At Breezy Point, roofs were ripped off cabanas at the Breezy Point Surf Club. The storms also scattered deck chairs and left a heavy metal barbecue and propane tank sitting in the middle of a softball field, at least 100 yards from any home, the Associated Press reported. 

"It picked up picnic benches. It picked up Dumpsters," said the club's general manager, Thomas Sullivan.

Courtesy Caitlin Walsh

Some of the debris at the Breezy Point Surf Club is seen Saturday.

"We were all scared," added club worker Caitlin Walsh, 24. "The windows on the whole building broke, the lights went out, and the rain was pouring in. Everything was shaking. It was really crazy."

Related: NBCNewYork.com reports on the twisters

Broken flower pots, knocked-down fences and smashed windows littered the community of seaside bungalows.

Half an hour later, the weather was beautiful, but Sullivan had to close the club to clean up the damage.

The roof of Bob O'Hara's cabana was torn off, leaving tubes of sunscreen, broken beer bottles and an old TV set exposed to the elements, the Associated Press reported.

O'Hara, who has spent summer weekends at the Breezy Point club for his entire 52 years, tried to be upbeat. "We got a new sunroof," he said, and "the TV was getting thrown out anyway." 

The second twister hit to the northwest, in Brooklyn's Canarsie section and also near the water. Several homes and trees were damaged.

A tornado is seen touching down in New York City on Saturday.

Tornadoes in the New York City area have occurred with more regularity in recent years. A small tornado uprooted trees on Long Island last month.

In September 2010, two tornadoes knocked down thousands of trees and blew off a few rooftops in Brooklyn and Queens. A weaker tornado struck the same year in the Bronx.

In 2007, a more powerful tornado damaged homes in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

NBC Learn explains how tornadoes form. 

WASHINGTON, D.C., AREA
Tornado-like funnel clouds were reported in Fairfax County, Va., and in Prince George's County, Md., but had not yet been confirmed.

A dozen people were injured while trying to evacuate the Prince George's County Fair, and six people were evacuated from a Washington apartment building when a tree fell on it.

Fairfax County officials reported three home cave-ins because of downed trees, a water rescue in the Potomac River and dozens of electrical wires down.

Related: NBCWashington.com reports on the storms 

Area storms left more than 108,000 households and businesses in Virginia without power, while over 60,000 electricity customers in the District of Columbia and the Maryland suburbs were hit by outages.  

By Sunday morning, more than 16,000 customers in the region were still without power.

NEW ENGLAND
The storms later moved into New England with wind gusts up to 60 mph, downing trees and flooding roads.

In Fall River, Mass., floodwaters reached up to car windshields and stalled out dozens of vehicles, the Associated Press reported. A day care center was evacuated and St. Anne's Hospital's emergency room flooded. 

In New Hampshire, WMUR-TV reported 4,000 power outages. The storm reached every county in Vermont, all within a two-hour window, but mercifully left the state without any extraordinary damage, according to early reports.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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