Updated: 07/09/2014 5:47 PM
Created: 07/09/2014 7:39 AM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff
MADISON COUNTY, N.Y. - There’s major devastation in Madison County, central New York. Even before the cleanup began, residents were there all morning, trying to pick up what's left of their lives as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.
There's debris everywhere -- pieces of two by fours, and some items barely recognizable were scattered in the town of Smithfield. Officials say it was the work of a tornado.
“It's just devastating. It looks like something you'd see from out west,” said Allen Riley, Madison County Sheriff.
Riley says the violent storm came roaring through town around 7 p.m. on Thursday. Most of the damage was concentrated in a half a mile radius. Four homes were torn apart. Four others were damaged.
We had one home that actually was lifted off its foundation and traveled approximately two hundred yards and landed on another building,” said Riley.
Four people were killed. Police say the victims include a mother 35-year-old Kimberly Hllard and her 4-month-old daughter, Paris Newman. Right next door, another relative, 70-year-old Virginia Warner also died. Damon Keville says it's devastating losing three generations of his family in the blink of an eye.
“I've always been a firm believer in the good lord, then you wonder why these things happen. 831 innocent babies and innocent people,” said Keville.
The storm also killed a 53-year-old man.
Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the damaged area on Wednesday. He says a number of state agencies are assisting in the recovery efforts.
“This new normal of extreme weather is a challenge for government. It's a challenge for first responders and it's a challenge for every citizen in this state,” he said.
The cleanup continues. Officials say it's going to take a while for this community to get back to normal. The healing process will take even longer.