Tornado leaves behind destruction in Danby

Update, 11:15pm:

Andrea Longmire walks through a maze of broken trees and limbs in her front yard after a violent tornado blew through Danby early Thursday morning.

"It sounded like a freight train coming through, the whole house was shaking," said Longmire.

It's now official a tornado touched down, leaving a path of destruction behind. The wind tore down huge trees, ripping the electrical wires on the way and knocking out power. It also sent sharp splintered pieces of wood into the air, one smashed right through Longmire's car windshield.

One massive tree even trapped tenants in their apartment, which is the back of Longmire's home. The fire department had to come out early Thursday morning and start cutting back tree limbs so they could get out. "They somehow slept through that," said Longmire. "They woke up and saw a branch making itself at home in the living room."

Now, the cleaning begins with a little help from neighbors who are offering a hand. One neighbor was using a machine to help clear debris so Longmire could pull into her driveway again.

"I was in the fire service for 20 years and this is the worst devastation I've ever seen," said Danby resident Jeff Baker who was taking pictures of the damage and sharing them on our website and CNY Central facebook page . "That's part of the reason why I was up and driving around this morning, just making sure everyone is okay."

In the wake of this storm, Longmire is looking on the bright side. "Considering what went on here, I'm just happy we are all safe. The house is fine, it's really just the lawn. I consider us lucky," she said.

Longmire hopes to have electricity turned back on, and the front yard cleaned up in the next few days.

Jessica Cain's Thursday story:

The National Weather Service is looking into whether the devastation in the Tompkins County town of Danby was caused by a tornado.

Homeowners believe it was a tornado that tore through their community early Thursday morning. A devastating line of thunderstorms running through Central New York hit Tompkins County particularly hard. Crews are scattered about throughout the town trying to fix powerlines and help clean up.

Tompkins County officials estimate about three dozen homes were damaged by the storm.

One of those belongs to Jutta Locker, who lives in Comfort Rd. She says trees that are more than 100 years old were uprooted in a matter of seconds. Three small buildings she owns were destroyed, and the garage and corner of a house she owns were damaged when trees fell on them.

"It got light this morning, and my heart kind of sank into my shoe when I had seen the actual damage there was," says Locker. Locker says when she looked out the window early Thursday morning, everything was completely dark. Then, she says she heard what sounded like a freight train sweeping through the area.

Sheela Kingsbury heard the same thing. She says a branch blew through her window and the glass shattered. She then saw trees start to fall. When she looked out the window, she noticed her business, Tea Garden Ithaca, was destroyed.

"I don't know how to start again," says Kingsbury, who says the Tea Garden is her dream.

Tompkins County officials say crews from the county and town are helping homeowners with the cleanup.