Several suspected tornadoes ravage the region, rip apart homes in greater Philly area

New Jersey declares state of emergency
By , KYW Newsradio

MULLICA HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Several suspected tornadoes were observed across the region Wednesday evening, causing widespread damage around the greater Philadelphia region and South Jersey.

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Severe thunderstorm, flash flood and tornado warnings simultaneously bombarded the area as Tropical Depression Ida passed through.

Sixteen tornado warnings were issued within a span of a few hours, and several were actually observed. Mullica Hill and Mantua, in Gloucester County, received the brunt of tornado damage.

Daniel North heard the tornado warning alert and didn’t think much of it — until an apparent twister appeared outside his window.

“There was a lot of rain and thunder and then it started to get quiet and I started to hear sort of a rumbling roar, which is what I always heard was what tornadoes sounded like," he said.

"I poked my head out the window, and that’s when I noticed the debris flying around above me. And it started to get louder and that’s when I realized there was a tornado right behind our house, basically.”

North's house sustained some roof damage, as did his neighbor’s. Other houses were completely decimated. One 3,200-square-foot home was basically reduced to a wall and a pile of wood.

Downed trees and power lines kept Gianna DelPiano from getting to her home on Cedar Road.

“I came from Philly and it actually wasn’t bad there," she said. "But then as soon as I got to Mullica Hill, all the trees were down. I’ve tried five different ways to get to the middle of this road and I can’t get there. It’s terrible.”

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Tim Steuber stayed with a neighbor overnight because one side of his house was ripped apart. His mattress was strewn about in the driveway.

He huddled in the basement with his wife when the apparent tornado passed through. It was over in two or three minutes.

Mullica Hill tornado damage
Photo credit Mike Dougherty/KYW Newsradio
Mullica Hill tornado damage
Photo credit Mike Dougherty/KYW Newsradio

Crews responded to the scene with chainsaws to clear the downed trees blocking the road. Fire crews are going door to door to clear the area. No injuries have been reported in Mullica Hill, though several people have died in the aftermath of Ida across the rest of the region.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storms.

"We will use every resource at our disposal to ensure the safety of New Jerseyans," the governor tweeted. "Stay off the roads, stay home, and stay safe."

National Weather Service teams are surveying the damage and the aftermath of the storm to officially determine if a tornado — or likely, tornadoes — touched down across the region.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike Dougherty/KYW Newsradio