A man uses his phone from a balcony after a possible tornado struck Elmira N.Y., on Thursday. (By Heather Ainsworth, AP)
Elmira, NY (AP via USA Today) -- Communities around the Northeast are cleaning up after strong thunderstorms swept from Ohio into upstate New York, knocking out power to tens of thousands and leaving at least two people dead.
In New York City, the storm is blamed for killing a 61-year-old man who was struck by collapsing scaffolding outside a Brooklyn church. Police say lighting brought bricks down onto the scaffolding. A woman in Pennsylvania was killed by a tree felled by Thursday's powerful storms.
A state of emergency and curfew remains in effect in Elmira, N.Y., as crews continue clearing trees and repairing power lines that were brought down by a possible tornado.
The storms temporarily shut down operations at the annual Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
There's a chance of more storms around the region on Friday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared an emergency for surrounding Chemung County to allow the state to mobilize state resources to assist local governments. "This state of emergency declaration will help the state get critical resources to communities that were hit the hardest," Cuomo said.
There were reports of isolated fires, and roofs torn off small structures, and people trapped in vehicles because of downed power lines."
About 16,000 utility customers in Chemung County were still without power early Friday.
"New York State Electric & Gas is working through the night ... to restore power and hopefully a lot of it will be on by tomorrow," Miner said. She said the main roads had been cleared, but that numerous side roads were "still impassable."
National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Nicosia said a helicopter was being dispatched to the area to assess the damage and determine if it was a tornado.
Cuomo said utilities were sending crews from western New York and Rochester to the Elmira area near the Pennsylvania border to assist with repairs and power restoration.
The National Weather Service issued multiple severe thunderstorm warnings across the southern half of New York throughout the day as storms moved eastward across the state. High winds, hail, and heavy rains brought down trees in numerous communities in western and southern New York.
Authorities evacuated campers in tents from 10 state campgrounds across the state as a precaution Thursday afternoon in advance of the storms.
Early Friday, after the thunderstorms had moved over the New York City area, about 160 Consolidated Edison customers were still without power.
The Long Island Power Authority reported that 284 customers on Long Island were without power as of 3 a.m. Friday.
About 17,000 other utility customers in the state also were without power early Friday.