Yvette Alfano said she had less than five minutes to take cover in her home’s basement.
“The sky went black, the wind was swirling,” Alfano said of the scene outside moments after hearing an alarm on her phone.
“My daughter started screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’ We have animals. We had to round the animals up and head into the basement because there was no time.”
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Nassau and Suffolk counties a bit ahead of the 50 mph winds that rocked Shirley, but it wasn’t as if there was much time to prepare.
Residents and employees at local businesses recalled hearing a loud boom as wind gusts downed trees, dismantled powerlines and damaged structures.
Alfano’s home was spared, but one of the family’s cars is currently under a 40-foot tree and downed power line. She said she is thankful, as things could have been much worse.
“It was scary,” she said. “The tree hit the car and would have hit my kids who were outside working on the car.”
The shopping strip at 800 Montauk Highway, across the street from Alfano’s home, fared much worse.
An awning over Chipotle and Gerardo’s was reduced to a pile of scrap metal.
While both storefronts were closed around 6:30 p.m., at least two Chipotle employees could be seen cleaning the damage inside, while an inspector from the Town of Brookhaven assessed damage with a fire marshal.
One vehicle in the parking lot was damaged by debris.
Residents in the surrounding area said they had lost power, as have PSEG customers across the island.
PSEG’s outage map indicated as of 8 p.m. there were approximately 600 customers in the Shirley area without power.
“Today’s fast-moving storm, including possible tornados, has caused scattered outages across the island,” a PSEG statement on its website reads. “All available personnel are working to assess storm damage and restore power safely and as quickly as possible.”