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One dead in N.H. storms that leveled several homes

Posted: Updated:

By CLARE TRAPASSO

Associated Press Writer

EPSOM, N.H. (AP) -- Violent storms in a 25-mile-long swath of central New Hampshire on Thursday destroyed several homes, damaged dozens of others and left at least one person dead, authorities said as police and firefighters went door-to-door searching for more possible victims.

State Emergency Management spokesman Jim Van Dongen said other people were hurt but he did not know how many or how serious the injuries were.

The National Weather Service was trying to determine whether a tornado was responsible for the damage, which stretched from about 10 miles east of Concord to beyond the eastern end of Lake Winnipesaukee near the Maine border.

The agency had issued a tornado warning, and some witnesses described seeing at least one funnel cloud.

Gov. John Lynch declared an emergency in five counties and called up the National Guard to help.

"It appears that there are at least 100 homes damaged and probably at least a half dozen homes which have been completely destroyed," Lynch said after a helicopter tour.

"It was a narrow swath of destruction that went from Epsom all the way to New Durham," he said.

The person who died was in Epsom, in one of the homes that were destroyed, Van Dongen said.

At home near Northwood Lake in Epsom, Ron Olson described a home not far away.

"Across the lake, there's a house that's just completely leveled. Gone. You can't even tell what color it was," he said.

Olson said the storm began with pounding rain followed by "a wicked, wicked loud noise -- like a train or a jet was landing on the roof."

Lise Patrick was at her home on Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham.

"I'm shaken up, but alive. I guess that's all that matters," Patrick, 64, said after the storm passed.

"All my trees are down. Part of my deck is gone. I can see lawn chairs and furniture floating in the lake," she said.

Karen Dapkus took shelter inside her home, also on Merrymeeting Lake, after a friend called with a report that a tornado was headed her way.

"We're right on the water. Our canopy (over her boat) was uprooted. The dock raised right up. You could see the legs of the dock," she said.

Downed trees and power lines blocked many roads, delaying emergency responders and utility crews. The storm knocked out power to 6,000 homes and businesses and knocked out telephone service.

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Associated Press photographer Jim Cole in Epsom and writers David Tirrell-Wysocki, Norma Love and Larry Laughlin in Concord contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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