23 Aug 2014
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Residents Suspect Tornado After Overnight Storm Downs Trees, Gladstone Closed

A powerful thunderstorm moved through the area last night, knocking down trees and damaging houses. Downed trees caused Gladstone Elementary School to be closed today.

Students at Gladstone Elementary School have the day off as crews clean up downed trees after a powerful thunderstorm charged through the area last night.

Some residents who experienced the maelstrom said it felt like a tornado ripped through the neighborhood. A roar of engines and blades filled the streets between Gladstone and the Senior Center as tree crews and National Grid trucks rumbled, sawed and chipped the littered detritus.

"I thought it was a tornado that came through here," said Sue Fuvich, a Bracken Street resident, as she sat on her front steps watching a tree crew cut up and haul away a huge tree from her neighbor's yard.

That tree was ready to go, Fuvich said. She had been picking up pieces of glass from her front lawn because a neighbor's windows blew out.

"I've been picking up pieces of glass all morning," she said.

A survey of the damage in the neighborhood explains why many residents of this area near Cranston Street might think a tornado ripped through. There was widespread damage, such as broken limbs, throughout the area. But swath of trees from Gladstone to the Senior Center were uprooted or sheared of leaves, or pruned at the tips as if a giant tree-eating monster had grazed along this way.

The City of Providence reported that straight-line winds up to 75 miles per hour tore through the area. 

Gladstone itself was undamaged by fallen trees. The surrounding streets, however, were littered with trees and debris at noon today and the intersection directly across from the school was blocked off on three sides.

Officials said numerous reports of downed trees were received by the fire department last night, many falling on power lines and houses.

The area of Cranston Street and Dyer Avenue was hard hit, causing classes at Gladstone Elementary School to be closed for the day.

Also affected were Huntington Avenue, Niantic Avenue and the Dupont Drive area.

Damage to trees was widespread. The Cranston Street  was walloped particularly hard, with every tree either toppling over or sustaining severe damage.

A large tree at the entrance to the senior center and another large tree behind the building were felled. 

A total of 8,000 people were without power after the storm, said Debbie Drew, a spokeswoman for National Grid. Cranston, East Greenwich, East Providence and Providence were hardest hit by the storm.

6,000 people were still without power at 7 a.m., Drew said.

About 3,000 remained without power this afternoon.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the day.

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