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New storms cap week of destruction

Severe weather Sunday adds to death toll as New Hampshire residents clean up from tornado

BALTIMORE | July 27, 2008

Intense and deadly storms swept across the mid-Atlantic states Sunday afternoon in the latest round of severe weather to have hit the northeastern U.S. during the past week. At least 9 deaths have been blamed on the storms.

Lightning killed one man and injured two others on a fishing beach area in Sandy Hook, NJ, Sunday afternoon and five soccer players received serious injuries after being struck by lightning in Hicksville, NY, Sunday morning. Last week, rip currents along New York beaches were blamed for as many as seven deaths last week and a rare tornado killed a New Hampshire woman.

Sunday's severe storms stretched from Virginia to New Hampshire. Many storms were accompanied by high winds and torrential rainfall. Tornado warnings were posted in Virgina and Pennsylvania.

The worst damage, however, occurred in New Hampshire where as many as 200 homes were damaged when severe storms and a tornado swept across the state.

"It came down in buckets," said the Gary H. Cote, pastor at Merrimack Valley Church in Epsom. "It was just pouring. You couldn't see out the window. The trees were blowing."

Cote said the church was not damaged and that all of his members were safe. One of them helped to clear trees in the Barnstead area so rescuers could get to people trapped in their homes, he said.

Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency in five counties — Merrimack, Strafford, Belknap, Carroll and Rockingham — and he called out the National Guard to assist in the recovery.

The storm downed trees, toppling them onto homes and roads. Telephone and power lines were downed, knocking out power to some 6,000 homes and blocking roadways.

Damage from the powerful storm stretched about 40 miles, through 11 towns, creating a swath of destruction as wide as a third of mile in some places. The heaviest damage was reported in the Epsom and Deerfield areas, located about 10 miles east of Concord.

The victim of the storm was a 57-year-old woman who was killed when her Deerfield house collapsed. The woman's husband and 3-month-old grandchild were injured.

-- PJ Heller also contributed to this story.

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