MANAHAWKIN, N.J., (CBS) – The National Weather Service has confirmed that a low-level tornado touched down in Ocean County Tuesday morning.
With maximum winds of 85 miles per hour, the tornado cut a path about two miles long, damaging several homes along the way.
By nightfall, the full scope of the damage was evident. The evidence left behind by the tornado could clearly be seen, but it was the sound that struck a chord with Stafford Township’s mayor.
“My wife and I thought we heard a low flying threat plane. It was a loud roar,” said Mayor John Spodofora.
Snapped trees fell, bringing power lines down with them, knocking out power to about 5,800 homes. The tornado hit just after 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service says the tornado has been classified as an EF-0, the lowest level tornado.
“We had some very heavy rain, obviously severe winds, lightning,” said Captain Thomas Dellane of Stafford Township Police.
Just 10 months after Sandy hit, this area received another unwelcome lesson on the power of Mother Nature.
“It’s a mess. It’s bringing back memories of Sandy,” said neighbor Nicole Hilliard. “That is what it is doing, I have seen the same things. This is twice I have been here that we have had a mess like this.”
“We’re still not recovered from that. And to see another storm of this magnitude hit, this close was very scary for us,” said Spodofora.
A lightning strike is blamed for starting a fire at the Ocean County Health Department. But despite all the damage to the Manahawkin Baptist Church where people were inside as part of the roof was blown off, no one was injured.
“Where those glass windows are, when the storm came through it, there was a woman sitting in that area when the windows exploded and imploded towards her,” said Dellane.
Crews have been working throughout Tuesday night to try and restore power. Only about 700 homes in the area remain without electricity.