Rare Tornado Hits Brooklyn

Brooklyn residents got a whole other surprise from yesterday's weather...a tornado. Mayor Bloomberg visited places yesterday where the storm caused the most damage, including a car dealership, two churches, and one residential street in Sunset Park. WNYC’s Lisa Chow.

REPORTER: It was hot and humid, and you could see and hear signs of the recent storm. Emergency crews sawed through fallen branches. A couple of men, lifted by cranes, tried to knock down the remnants of one roof, which the storm had torn off, tangled, and thrown onto two other houses. The roof had belonged to Lanie Mastellone, who woke up in the early morning hours. She went to close a window, walked to one end of her apartment, and then, her ceiling collapsed.

MASTELLONE: I had no power, so I had grabbed a flashlight and I'm dialing my children, and I had grabbed some clothes and I grabbed my wedding ring cause my husband passed away 2 years ago and my cell phone. And it wasn't until I opened the door that led me out of my apartment that I realized I had no roof.

REPORTER: Sui Leung lives across the street from Mastellone.

LEUNG: I heard like a loud shot gun and when I looked out the window, all I saw was just grayness and big objects moving around.

Here's borough president Marty Markowitz talking to one of the many reporters at the scene.

MARKOWITZ: They experienced cars being smashed, huge trees falling down, air conditioners coming off the windows, and debris all around their homes.

REPORTER: What do you think it was?

MARKOWITZ: Listen I'm no meteorologist this was not a normal storm. This was a targeted a mini tornado, or Ron what do we call it, straight line winds. I've been here 62 years all my life we've never had anything like this before.

REPORTER: A little scary?


REPORTER: Then the mayor arrived, wearing a white button down shirt with rolled up sleeves. Camera crews and photographers turned. He walked mid block to meet Mastellone and her brother, Jerry Rugolo. Microphones came out from all directions to record their exchange.

BLOOMBERG: This morning it was pouring with rain. How long have you lived here?

MASTELLONE: 44 years.

BLOOOMBERG: Really? You look too young to have lived here 44 years.

MASTELLONE: Ah, thank you.

REPORTER: After a few minutes an assistant to the mayor interrupted and called the mayor and reporters to the podium.

BLOOMBERG: Well good afternoon, I'm joined by some concerned elected officials.

REPORTER: And commissioners spoke, from police, fire, office of emergency management, sanitation, transportation, community assistance, parks and recreation, homeless services, environmental protection, and the building department. Again resident Sui Leung.

LEUNG: Everyone was in disbelief that this happened on our street. Nothing happens on our street.

REPORTER: Except today. For WNYC, I'm Lisa Chow.