NEW YORK — A potent storm system that spawned tornadoes in the South reached the Northeast on Wednesday, where it knocked out power to thousands, closed the Statue of Liberty and delayed flights for hours. At least three people were killed.
Sandbags were handed out in Washington, D.C., to protect homes from flooding. Thousands were without electricity in the mid-Atlantic region and New York, and some schools delayed openings. By early evening, the storms had moved into New England, where wind gusts of up to 70 mph knocked out power to 35,000 customers in Vermont.
In Connecticut, the storm toppled trees and flooded streets near the shore. More than 20,000 customers lost power, according to Connecticut Light & Power.
Truck driver John Helwig, 59, said it was so windy as he passed through Bridgeport that traffic was moving only 40-50 mph on the highway.
"It was pretty bad; the truck's rocking back and forth," he said.
In New York, gusts of winds that snapped a huge, lighted Christmas tree at the South Street Seaport also prompted the closing of the Statue of Liberty. Late into the evening, some flights at the metropolitan area's three major airports were delayed up to two hours.
Commuter rail service between Newark, N.J., and New York City was briefly suspended due to overhead wire damage, New Jersey Transit said.
Repairs were made by late afternoon, but residual delays and cancellations wreaked havoc on commuters.
Thousands in New Jersey were without power, as well as in upstate New York, where blowing snow caused treacherous driving conditions.
Hundreds of miles to the south, residents in Buford, Ga., were cleaning up after a tornado with winds as high as 130 mph whipped through Tuesday, damaging more than 50 homes, the National Weather Service said. No injuries were reported there.
As the storm hit, Tami O'Connor walked into her living room to tell her two children to go to the basement, and the room imploded, she said. No one was hurt, and though half of the room was sucked into her backyard, some of it was left intact.
"The baby Jesus is still on the mantel," she said.
At least two tornadoes touched down in South Carolina on Tuesday, the National Weather service said. A tornado also hit Georgia on Tuesday.