CAMPBELLTOWN, Pa. – A storm packing high winds ripped through south-central Pennsylvania (search) on Wednesday, damaging at least 50 homes in a housing development and injuring 24 people, including one critically, authorities said.
Thirteen-year-old Christy Hetrick was at home when the storm hit. She said she heard "kind of like a screeching noise" and looked outside to see many trees knocked over. She said the storm lasted about an hour.
"I had tears in my eyes because it was so horrible," she said.
High wind and heavy rains have damaged hundreds of houses, stalled cars, breached small dams, downed power lines and closed roadways from spots in the Midwest all the way to the Eastern Seaboard (search) in an onslaught of severe weather since Monday.
The storms wreaked havoc with airline schedules as well, delaying flights Wednesday to New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport by more than three hours. Other airports along the East Coast — in Baltimore, Washington, Boston, New York and Philadelphia — experienced delays up to an hour.
In New Jersey, residents of Lumberton (search) — the town hardest hit by floodwaters — awaited word from inspectors on when they could return to their homes to assess the damage and start cleaning up.
The National Weather Service said Clarks Mills, Wis., was hit by a tornado Tuesday afternoon with winds of at least 73 mph. Meteorologist Gary Austin said the tornado skipped along a path 4.5 miles long, damaging a dozen houses and farm buildings. There were no injuries.
Storms also moved through Michigan late Tuesday, bringing high winds and hail up to 2 inches in diameter. Damage was mostly limited to downed trees, which cut power to about 54,000.
In Kentucky, power outages numbered in the hundreds of thousands statewide as straight-line winds, reaching sustained gusts of 80 mph, toppled trees and power lines.
In one county, intense winds destroyed a mobile home near Cecilia, Ky., and sheared the roof off another, said David Underwood, Hardin County emergency management director. "It was a very scary time," he said.
In Maryland, Gov. Robert Ehrlich declared a limited state of emergency Wednesday in two northeastern counties after floods damaged roads and homes.
Meanwhile, the community of Campbelltown, about 16 miles east of Harrisburg, took the brunt of thunderstorms that swept through south-central Pennsylvania, said Jamie Wolgemuth, spokesman for the Lebanon County Emergency Management Agency.
At least 20 homes in the 2-year-old Country Squire Estates development were leveled or appeared uninhabitable.
With more storms expected, police drove through the neighborhood with bullhorns early Wednesday night to evacuate residents as they were picking through their damaged or destroyed homes. School buses were brought in for the evacuation to the local volunteer fire hall.
Although tornado warnings had been posted, authorities could not immediately confirm the presence of a twister.
David Ondrejik, a meteorologist for the weather service in State College, said he received a wind report of 73 mph in Lancaster County.
Sixteen people were taken to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, while another eight sought treatment on their own, hospital spokeswoman Anne Wilkinson said. She said one person was in critical condition and two were listed as serious, while the rest had minor wounds.