EF-0 tornado touches down in Stafford Township, New Jersey

August 14, 2013 3:48:55 AM PDT
A tornado struck southern New Jersey on Tuesday amid a series of powerful storms that knocked down trees and power lines and damaged several church buildings as it cut a two-mile-long path through Ocean County, just miles from the busy shore resort area of Long Beach Island.

Now, 10 months after Superstorm Sandy hit Stafford Township, all you hear is the buzzing of saws because there is a lot of cleanup work to be done yet again.

The National Weather Service confirmed that it was an EF-0 tornado with winds reaching 85 miles per hour that touched down Tuesday morning.

Perhaps most striking of all was the calling card left on the roof of Manahawkin Baptist Church, where the doors blew open and the winds went screaming the sanctuary.

Century-old trees fell victim, while some little tomatoes managed stayed on the vine. Thankfully, property damage was not widespread and no injuries were reported.

The winds and falling trees also brought down numerous power lines, and utility crews were hard at work trying to make repairs and restore power to residents. As many as 5,800 lost power at the peak of the outages.

"It was a bit unnerving," Mayor John Spodofora said. "It was scary. The lightning was going all over, the thunder. And the roar behind it was something unlike I ever heard before. It was a loud, loud roar. I thought it was a low flying jet or something."

Flooding was a serious problem in central and southern New Jersey, particularly in Long Branch in Monmouth County.

Cars were stuck in high water after the storm blew through. In Trenton, downpours quickly flooded roads, with some streets completely impassable.

Further north in Bergen County, parts of Fort Lee also saw a good soaking from the fast-moving storm.

Ocean County, where the tornado struck, is the same county where 16 public employees won a share of last week's $448 million Powerball jackpot. Only several hours after the storm hit, the New Jersey Lottery held a news conference in Ocean County with the newly minted multimillionaires.