Great Neck Mayor Ralph Krietzman could not get into his home Friday - it was blocked by huge trees toppled by Thursday's powerful thunderstorm. Even if he did get in, he said, he still had no power as of early evening.

The mayor's personal situation was emblematic of the destruction wreaked on this North Shore community by the brief but powerful storm that packed winds of up to 100 mph as it raced through the area around 2:45 p.m. Thursday.

"The damage is extensive and horrendous," Krietzman said Friday. "It's unbelievable a five-minute storm could have caused this kind of devastation."

The fierce, swift-moving thunderstorm toppled hundreds of trees, damaged scores of homes and knocked down at least a dozen utility poles, he said. The roof of a Department of Public Works salt storage shed was blown completely off, landing in the backyard of a neighboring home. Half the trees in the Village Green Park, most of them at least 100 years old, were toppled.

Amazingly, Krietzman said, there were no reported injuries in Great Neck. Suffolk police said a 7-year-old Lindenhurst boy suffered head and back injuries after a falling tree limb hit him during the storm. The boy was in stable condition when he was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

Two National Weather Service meteorologists visited Great Neck Friday to determine if the storm was actually a tornado. They ruled it wasn't, in part because the winds were in a straight line.

Michael Silva and William Goodman said winds reached speeds in excess of 75 mph in most places and even 100 mph in a few places. Hail as large as 1.75 inches in diameter was reported near the Queens border and in parts of Nassau.

"This was a different storm from the one in Bridgeport. That was a confirmed tornado with similar wind speeds as here," Goodman said. "We're looking at the trees to see if they fell in one direction, or if they are crossed. Here they all seem to have fallen in an easterly direction, which indicates straight line winds."

LIPA said the storm left 65,000 customers without power in northwest and central Nassau County. As of 10 p.m. Friday, 8,842 Nassau customers remained without power, the utility said, adding it would work through the night and into Saturday to restore the rest.

The storm wreaked havoc on the Long Island Rail Road, as several trees that fell across tracks caused service to be suspended on both the Port Washington and Oyster Bay lines, said spokesman Joe Calderone. The trees also took down wires for the LIRR signal system. It took more than eight hours to fully restore service shortly before midnight Thursday. Meanwhile, buses replaced trains between Bayside and Great Neck.

On Friday, residents throughout Nassau traded stories of horrifying moments and narrow escapes. Great Neck parks employee Antonio Romeo recalled how the sky blackened and wind and hail pelted the Jonathan L. Ielpi Firefighters Park, where nearly 40 children and their nannies huddled under a gazebo to escape the maelstrom.

Romero heard a crack and then a thud - the tallest tree in the park snapped and fell, missing the gazebo by 40 feet.

"It was very scary," said Romeo, 59. "We were all very lucky it didn't fall on anyone."

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