Roofs blown off two downtown Potsdam businesses, man trapped briefly in liquor store, Jeep crushed
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 5:50 pm


Today’s major thunderstorm that ripped through much of northern St. Lawrence County blew two roofs off of downtown businesses, and scores of downed trees and powerlines blocked traffic and caused power outages.

In downtown Potsdam, the roof on apartments above Sergi's Restaurant collapsed and emergency services personnel were asking bystanders if they knew who lived in apartments one and two and whether they had been seen.

Firefighters reported a man was trapped in the Village Wines & Liquors store behind Sergi's when the roof from the Italian restaurant landed on the liquor store. He was later removed safely.

Nearby, Evans & White Ace Hardware at 1 Maple St. lost portions of the roof, pieces of which flew in several directions. Some landed in the Raquette River and were mostly washed away. A large piece of sheet metal could be seen hanging from utility wires near Trinity Episcopal Church across the street.

Nearly 4,000 of those without electricity were in the town and village of Potsdam. National Grid was estimating most customers would have power restored between 6 and 7 p.m. tonight.

Five large trees and power lines were downed at Main and Cedar streets, blocking Cedar Street. Once the trees were cut up enough, firemen used a payloader to remove the pieces of trunk.

Ted Prahl, whose house was holding up one tree, said that 14 months ago, in another storm, another tree fell on his house and that cost him $10,000.

At 8 Madrid Ave., a downed tree destroyed a shed and a Jeep. One of the owners, Waylon Maitland, said he had been in the shed 30 seconds before the tree came down. "I walked out of the shed, turned around and watched the tree come down," he said.

"There's so much work to do," he added, surveying the damage.

Traffic was backed up in Potsdam and other areas as traffic lights were not functioning. Rescue squad and fire truck sirens could be heard responding to calls as water poured through streets. NYS Hwy. 345 was closed in several places due to downed trees and wires.