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EPSOM, N.H. (WBZ) ― New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency in Merrimack, Strafford, Belknap, Carroll and Rockingham counties, after severe thunderstorms, and a possible tornado, left a swath of destruction through central and eastern New Hampshire late Thursday morning.

Police and fire departments investigated several reports of buildings and trees down and power lines dropped onto cars.

Based on damage reports in the Epsom area, WBZ meteorologist Todd Gutner said it's likely a tornado is to blame.

A member of the SkyWarn weather watchers network confirmed to WBZ's Mish Michaels a tornado touched down in Northwood, just east of Epsom.

"I have never seen rain come down like that," Mike Hedstrom, a lifelong resident of Northwood told WBZ. "Houses are down, roofs are off, trees are down."

There are reports of people trapped in homes and in cars. Officials reported scores of homes damaged. One person was taken to Concord Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ron Olson said he saw one home demolished after taking cover in his house near Northwood Lake in Epsom.

"Across the lake, there's a house that's just completely leveled. Gone. You can't even tell what color it was," he said about two hours after a violent storm ripped off a door and destroyed his picture window.

He said he was home with his wife when pounding rain began.

"Then there was a wicked, wicked loud noise -- like a train or a jet was landing on the roof," Olson said.

About 20 miles northeast, Lise Patrick also took shelter in her home in New Durham near Merrymeeting Lake.

"I'm shaken up but alive. I guess that's all that matters," Patrick, 64, said.

"All my trees are down. Part of my deck is gone. I can see lawn chairs and furniture floating in the lake," she said.

Officials are investigating reports of at least one tornado and funnel clouds in a line from Epsom and Deerfield in the central part of the state, through Wolfeboro in the north and New Durham in the east.

Emergency Management Director Christopher Pope said emergency officials are working to warn people who might still be in the path of severe weather, assessing damage and mobilizing aid.

"There was a line of destruction that went from roughly Deerfield through to the Alton, Wolfeboro line," State Emergency Management spokesman Jim Van Dongen told WBZ.

"We have damage to buildings, tress down, roads closed, power lines down."

Van Dongen said a house reportedly collapsed in Epsom, where the fire chief said preliminary reports indicated that 50 to 100 homes were damaged.

The National Weather Service briefly issued a tornado warning before noon and posted severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of four counties.

New Hampshire State Police told WBZ's Karen Anderson Routes 4 and 107 in Deerfield have been shut down because of trees down in the area.
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