Almost a year after an F3 tornado ripped through South Jersey and caused severe damage to Mullica Hill, rebuilding what was lost has been a slow process.
“The recovery is slow, with the displaced people just in the reconstruction phase,” said Mayor Lou Manzo, who added that the affected owners would see their houses rebuilt from October. Thirty-nine houses were destroyed.
Mullica Hill was one of the hardest-hit towns after the September 1 tornado last year, with several of its areas designated tornado-affected areas.
“The hardest hit areas are along Marvin and Josephine Lane, Gangemi Lane, Salvatore and Turtle Creek Drive, Clems Run, Winding Way and Timber Lane,” Manzo said. “That was the way, from north to south, to Mullica Hill.”
The city was ill-prepared for a tornado of any severity, let alone one as strong as the F3, whose winds reached 150 mph, according to 6 ABC. Such weather extremes are rare in South Jersey, so the damage to Mullica Hill was unexpected and “massive”, Manzo noted.
The tornado was part of the remnants of Hurricane Ida, which hit the northeast of the country. Ida also caused widespread flooding, power outages, and damage to nearby trees and blackouts. All of this happened quickly during a storm of ruthless force.
The storm “severely affected” another 100 homes in addition to those lost, Manzo said. Despite the damage, there were no fatalities and only two people were injured, 6 ABC reported.
After the tornado, residents created a fundraiser to help those who lost their homes.
“The damage was all to private property and residents,” Manzo explained, “so the actual ‘rebuilding’ was dependent on the individual’s home insurance, and we’ve heard of various experiences with that.
“For our part (township), we immediately provided assistance in clearing trees and vegetation and transporting building materials,” he added. “We also started a citywide fundraiser for those who lost their homes, which raised approximately $180,000 which was split among the 39 homeowners.”