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Grandmother dies, wailing baby found after N.H. tornado

July 26, 2008|From the Associated Press

EPSOM, N.H. — A baby's cries led rescuers to the 3-month-old boy in a home flattened by a tornado that killed his grandmother and blew his grandfather into the yard, officials said Friday.

Officials said at least half a dozen homes were destroyed and hundreds were damaged along the 20-mile path cut by Thursday's twister in central New Hampshire. The National Weather Service said nine towns suffered severe damage from the tornado, which had wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph.

Brenda Stevens, 57, was with her grandson on the first floor of a home near Northfield Lake in Deerfield when the tornado hit. Her husband, Harley, was heading down from the second floor when he "was blown out the side of the building and found in the side yard," state Fire Marshal William Degnan said.

Concord Hospital officials said Harley Stevens was treated and released. The infant was admitted, but they said that at the family's request, no information would be disclosed.

He survived because he was in a pocket of wreckage that protected him, officials said.

Countless others had close calls too, though Brenda Stevens was the only fatality.

Mike Troy of Barnstead, N.H., tried to close his garage door as the wind began to howl.

"The wind -- at first it felt like a push, then I got sucked out, then pushed back," he said. "I could hear things snapping. I could see things flying," including his canoe, which landed about 100 feet away.

"It was all gray and white and stuff going by," Troy said, and he couldn't get into the house because the air pressure kept the door from opening more than a couple of inches.

On Friday, Gov. John Lynch led a group of state and federal officials to see the damage in Barnstead. "Where's the house?" he asked Todd Shaw, who pointed through a tangle of trees to his brother's home.

"Oh my God," Lynch said. "How are you going to get in there?"

"We'll cut our way in," Shaw said.

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