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Alissa Scott/Recorder staff Grace Neznek, 81, of the town of Florida, expresses the fear she experienced when a tornado drove through her backyard, crumbling her barn, pictured at far right.

Alissa Scott/Recorder staff One barn on a farm in the town of Florida that stored hay was leveled by a one-mile-wide tornado that left a 17-mile path of destruction in Montgomery and Schenectady counties.

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Tornado sweeps across area

Friday, May 31, 2013 - Updated: 4:09 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

Recorder News Staff

TOWN OF FLORIDA -- Grace Neznek, 81, said she couldn't speak, eat or sleep for hours after a mile-wide tornado swept through her family barn, only just missing her home Wednesday night.

"I was ready to hide under a table," Neznek said. "It was very devastating. It could have hit my house. I couldn't even talk [Wednesday] night...There was no power. We had flashlights, that's about it. And my candle. I lit my candle."

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was classified as an EF-2, a "significant tornado," that falls right in the middle of its rating system.

"That means the tornado can have windspeeds anywhere from around 100 to 135 miles per hour," Adam Lee, a meteorologist for the NWS, said. "[The maximum speed for] this tornado was 125 miles per hour."

Neznek said she had just finished dinner and was closing up her doors and windows when the funnel-cloud blew through.

"All we could hear was a noise like something was rattling and then rain came and everything went all together like a white wash," Neznek said. "And lightning and thunder. That was scary."

One injury was sustained along the 17-mile path of destruction, leaving roofs torn from homes and trees uprooted and shredded.

Neznek's farm, which raises beef cattle and hay crops, saw the most damage to a barn that stored the hay after harvest. Because these resources help pay the bills, Neznek said she and her family might experience a setback until they're able to repair the blow.

Terry Neznek, 50, Grace Neznek's son who lives across the street and tends a Christmas tree farm, said it's going to take a very long time -- months in Grace Neznek's eyes.

"Right now we're just starting to clean up the debris," Terry Neznek said. "The barn is flattened. We're just trying to see what we can salvage."

About 15 to 20 cows live on the 100-acre piece of land, but only one cow has been accounted for so far. Terry Neznek said it's very possible they ran up in the forest in fear. The horses and chickens that also live there have survived the storm.

Terry Neznek said though he's seen high-wind storms roll through the neighborhood, never before has he seen the destruction that reduced his barn to rubble in only 15 minutes.

"There's a lot of work to do," Neznek said. "Everybody at some point will feel Mother Nature's wrath."

The last time a tornado made an appearance in the area was in 2011, according to Adam Schwabrow, Montgomery County director of emergency management.

"The last tornado we had in this area was in Cranesville back in 2011," Schwabrow said. "That one caused some major damage, but again no injuries."

Often with tornados, it's difficult to have people evacuate because they happen suddenly, Schwabrow said.

"That's the thing about tornados," Schwabrow said. "Same thing with the tornado out in Oklahoma, the most recent one, they only had about 20 minutes to prepare. There's not a lot of time to alert people."

Terry Neznek said the greatest result from all this is that everyone is safe and well.

"That's the main thing," Neznek said. "Everyone is okay."

"A little shook up," Grace Neznek added. "But, we're safe."

     

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