EF-0 tornado confirmed in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

July 2, 2013 2:29:25 PM PDT
Thunderstorms brought heavy rain and flooding to New Jersey Monday, and the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down as well.

The EF-0 tornado didn't last long, but it was enough to down trees and power lines in the Berkeley Heights area. The tornado touched down in near the Passaic River, just west of Garfield Street. It passed northeast through New Providence and lifted in Summit near Evergreen Avenue.

An EF-0 tornado has wind speeds between 65 and 85mph. Maximum wind speed for this tornado was estimated at 85 mph. It was 50 yards wide and traveled 4.8 miles.

"It came in through here, went around the side of my house, destroyed everything over there," said Nancy Garcia, a resident.

With its deafening roar, the tornado was snapping and uprooting trees as it passed Nancy Garcia's home, chewing up everything in its path.

"It looked like dirt swirling around and I'm like, OK! It's time to go into the basement, I'm done," Garcia said.

"The wind was so loud. As soon as I got into the basement I was like shaking. I was terrified. I was like yelling at my mom to get into the basement," said Jessica Hopkins, Nancy's daughter.

Now they and others in Berkeley Heights face the daunting task of cleaning up.

Public works crews and private three companies have quickly cleared and reopened town streets.

Utility crews have also restored much of the power.

Others though will have to wait a bit longer for cleanup.

"First Christmas we put that tree in, it's heartbreaking," said Arthur Delia, a resident.

Arthur Delia was at his door with a repair man when the tornado's winds grabbed this mighty pine tree.

"All of a sudden, this thing comes down and it just misses his truck, missed my car, and went all the way across the driveway. I couldn't believe it," Delia said.

All around this neighborhood numerous trees were lost.

Young Thomas Puia heard one come down in his backyard.

"It was like a big thud and the house started shaking a little bit, and I looked out and there were trees down," Puia said.

His mother, Laurie Liming, is thankful the house wasn't hit.

"I'm just glad everybody's OK. But there will be a lot to clean up," Liming said.

In addition to storm damage, heavy rain brought flooding to places like Paramus, and a flash flood threat continues for most of the state Tuesday because of the potential for another round of storms.

Forecasters are predicting an additional half inch to 1 inch of rain, with the ground already saturated.

A flood warning continues for the North Branch Rancocas Creek in Pemberton, where the creek is expected to remain around flood stage until Wednesday afternoon.

On Monday, Route 17 saw heavy flooding, and just north of the Garden State Plaza, cars were seen being pushed by firefighters as the rain made it instantly too deep for drivers to move them.

No injuries were reported.

"I didn't think that was going to happen, but it was up to my knee when I got out of my car," stranded driver Caroline McCourt said.

Once the rain stopped, the flooding seemed to recede fairly quickly.

In nearby Paterson, major roadways were under six feet of water.

"All the time it is raining like that, they been saying it's always flooding," Paterson resident Nadia Melgarejo said.

Melgarejo came home to find water had poured into her living room, kitchen and basement. Now, as water pours out her pump, she and her husband are facing uncertainty.

The power, city officials tell them, is being cut to their building and several others.

"In that house, we have five kids," husband Guztavo Mata said. "They just come in and say nothing."