Worried about her three dogs, Vazquez headed home, walking on Middle Neck Road.
"The roads were just blocked," Vazquez said. "You had to literally walk between each wire."
During her 45-minute trip, Vazquez saw toppled trees leaning on houses and others lying across yards and roads.
"It just looked like Armageddon," Vazquez said. "I've never seen anything worse. There were trees and wires everywhere."
Diana Cohen was in her Embassy Court home Thursday when the storm hit. "A heavy, heavy tree is sitting on top of my house," Cohen said. "Our car is under the tree."
High winds, rain and hail swept onto the North Shore, where the worst damage was done at about 2:45 p.m., after the storm had crossed into Nassau County from Queens, the National Weather Service said. It then rumbled across the Island and struck southwestern Suffolk County before moving out into the Atlantic at about 3:45 p.m. Thousands were left without power, and service on the Long Island Rail Road was disrupted.
"This was a significant storm, I would say, and pretty fast moving," said meteorologist Richard Castro.
Castro said the weather service and emergency officials think a strong downburst of air that can accompany bad thunderstorms caused the worst of the North Shore damage. When the air hits the ground, Castro said, it fans out.
A 62-mph gust was recorded at LaGuardia Airport as the storm approached Long Island, Castro said, and hail of 1.75 inches in diameter, extremely large for the area, was reported around the Queens side of the Throgs Neck Bridge.
"All available crews have been deployed and are assessing the damage," said LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter. As of 7 p.m., the number of customers without power had been reduced to 21,000, Baird-Streeter said.
Service has been restored in both directions on the Port Washington branch. Service had been suspended on the branch for several hours as a result of fallen trees on the tracks and weather-related signal problems.
With Mark Harrington, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Nomaan Merchant and Ben Wieder