EPSOM, N.H. A baby's cries led rescuers to the 3-month-old in the wreckage of a home flattened by a tornado that killed his grandmother and blew his grandfather into the yard, officials said Friday.
Brenda Stevens, 57, was the only person killed in Thursday's twister, which left a 20-mile-long swath of fallen trees and damaged homes in central New Hampshire.
Officials estimate that at least a half-dozen homes were destroyed and hundreds were damaged in the heavily wooded, sparsely populated terrain. The National Weather Service said nine towns suffered severe damage from the tornado, which at times reached wind speeds of 111-135 mph.
Countless people had close calls, including Mike Troy of Barnstead, who tried in vain to close his garage door as the wind began to howl.
"The wind at first it felt like a push, then I got sucked out, then pushed back," he said. "I could hear things snapping. I could see things flying," including his canoe, which landed about 100 feet away.
With trees toppling around him, Troy tried to get into his house but couldn't open the door more than 2 or 3 inches because of the air pressure.
"It was all gray and white and stuff going by," Troy said.
Stevens died when the tornado obliterated a home near Northfield Lake in Deerfield as she and her grandson were on the first floor. Her husband, Harley, had just headed down from the second floor when he "was blown out the side of the building and found in the side yard," state Fire Marshal William Degnan said.
Degnan said the boy's crying soon led firefighters to him in the rubble. Officials said the infant was protected by being in a void.
The baby was admitted to Concord Hospital, but a spokesman said no information would be released at the family's request. The hospital said Harley Stevens was released after being examined in its emergency room.
The deadly winds, swirling black clouds and torrential rains gave way to chain saws and portable power generators Friday. Under brilliant blue skies, chain saw crews cleared roads, made paths to fallen power lines and helped residents remove huge trees from atop homes.
Gov. John Lynch led a group of state and federal officials, including members of the congressional delegation, to survey the damage the tornado caused.
"Where's the house?" Lynch asked Todd Shaw, who pointed through a mishmash of trees to his brother's home in Barnstead.
"How are you going to get in there?" Lynch asked.
"We'll cut our way in," Shaw said.
Roads were lined with utility trucks, trucks hauling replacement telephone poles and tree service trucks. Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were in the area, and neighbors were helping neighbors.
In Barnstead, a group of people showed up around noon and began giving firefighters and work crews bottled water.
"People are great," said Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Mulcahy. "Look at that."
One Barnstead resident was injured Friday morning while clearing debris. Mulcahy said the man was knocked out by a falling tree limb.