National Weather Service officials are all around the city looking at areas damaged by yesterday's storm to figure if a tornado did touch down. The Office of Emergency Management's Chris Gilbride tells us the NWS officials will be taking their surveys (both on the ground and aerial), photographs and videos, and the scientific data (plus other information) from the storm to make the determination, which could come in the next day or so.
The Daily News explains the grades of tornados, "EF-1 means moderate damage; roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken. EF2 means considerable damage, with roofs torn off; foundations of frame homes shifted; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off the ground." The Bronx tornado from July was an EF-1 with 100 mph winds; the August 2007 tornado was EF-2.
At any rate, there was a lot of damage: Gilbride says about 900 trees across the city were downed and the area most badly hit seems to be Middle Village, Queens. And on Staten Island, one woman's experience sounds like a disaster movie:
At the same time, Holly Orlando, a swim coach at the school, called off practice. The students ran for cover inside the school, while Ms. Orlando jumped into her car to race home.
She was only able to go several yards before her car was pelted by tree branches. She stopped when a tree fell in front of her car and screamed when a second tree fell beside her car, blocking her in. A third tree fell right behind her car.
"I really thought I was going to die," she said. "I'm amazed the trees hit every part of my car, but didn't come on top. The wind sounded like a growling and I could see the clouds swirling counterclockwise 10 feet above me. I just sat there and my heart was pounding. I didn't know what to do."
As for whether insurance covers down trees, the Metropolis found, "People whose homes are damaged by trees or flying branches should file a claim whether or not the tree came from their yard. Policies cover tree-removal costs in cases when downed trees or limbs cause damage, but won’t cover removal for trees that fell without striking any structures. Cars damaged by falling trees or other objects are covered under the comprehensive portion of auto insurance policies. That coverage is optional, so not everyone will be able to recover the cost of the repairs."