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In South Jersey, 'panic mode' as tornado came off ocean and tore up Route 9

Amy S. Rosenberg and David Maialetti, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Weather News

MARMORA, N.J. -- The tornado came off the ocean in Strathmere and, like a beachgoer headed back home in a hurry, tore over the bridge out of Ocean City, cutting a path through the mainland community of Marmora in and around Route 9.

Witnesses in Marmora, a section of Upper Township in Cape May County, reported seeing a debris-filled tornado split into two spouts that ripped up roofs and downed power lines as Tropical Storm Isaias rolled through the region Tuesday. It skirted along Route 9, taking a direct hit at the Liberty Coca Cola Beverages center, the Glory Road grave marker business, and the Pine Hill Mobile Home court.

Still, no injuries were reported in the area.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency late Monday night in advance of the storm. It went into effect at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The funnel, spinning with trees branches and other debris, tore through the parking lot of a nearby day-care center, where the owner gathered children into the bathroom for safety, said Jaime Bannon, whose two grandchildren, ages 1 and 5, were there.

Bannon said she was driving with her friend, Jill Moran, when they saw the tornado as they got off the Garden State Parkway onto Route 9 at Exit 25.

 

"It was pretty intense," she said. "I went into panic mode."

Across the street from the day care, where trees fell on either side of the building, Marilyn Sussman said she hid in a hallway of her home. Tuesday afternoon, she said she was still shaken, and still without power.

"At first it sounded like death," she said, her dog Carly close by. "There was no wind rushing, and it got deathly quiet. And then it sounded like a train."

Bannon said cars were swerving to turn around away from the scene, and the tornado appeared to split in two.

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