Lots of damage with early morning storm Ocean City

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Trees along the street at Seventh and West were ripped out of the ground from the powerful wind. Trees along the street at Seventh and West were ripped out of the ground from the powerful wind. OCEAN CITY — A violent storm ripped through South Jersey early this morning, hitting Ocean City’s north end very hard.

The powerful storm tossed boats, tore shingles off roofs and shredded awnings across the north end.

“The calls started coming in about 1 a.m.,” said Ocean City Fire Department Deputy Chief Bill Bowman.

Winds were clocked in excess of 70 mph at the height of the storm. Straight line winds caused the most damage.

“Most of the damage was in the north end, north of 18th Street, and it was particularly severe in the Gardens,” said Bowman. “We had a lot of calls on Crescent Road and Surf Road.”

“The damage is mostly trees and wires down, and lots of debris on the roadways,” he said.

Most of the north end remained without power throughout the day.

East Station Road residents Hank and Gloria Votta experienced a "frightful night."

"We were very, very, very lucky," said Gloria Votta. "We woke up to the wind, it was so bad it felt like it was going to rip our bedroom off."

Remembering that she had left a flag outside, Votta went outside to bring it in, and "just got back into the house" when she noticed sparks flying across her front yard.

"Sparks were everywhere, wires were down and every time the wires touched, there were sparks," she said. "I called 911 and the fire department arrived immediately. We were trapped in the house, so fearful that the house would catch on fire."

Preoccupied with the sparks, the Vottas did not notice that a tree had fallen in their front yard.

"Fortunately, it did not do too much damage, it landed between two cars," she said.

Gloria Votta said she "cannot say enough good things about the fire department."
"They got here so fast, and they stayed until we were out of danger," she said. "Later I called the police department to file a report about the tree, and they were so helpful, too."

Police Officer Tom Finegan, she said, called public works to come pick up the tree. Later, he called back to make sure the tree had been picked up.

"They were fabulous," said Hank Votta. "Public works was amazing. They had a lot of calls and they responded very quickly. Kudos to the public works department. I was super impressed with all of the city employees."

"God bless the police and fire departments," said Gloria Votta. "The firemen were out in that terrible rain, with the wind, using flashlights. I felt so much better after they arrived."

"The storm was scarier than Hurricane Irene," she said. "It makes you think twice. I thought after Irene I may not leave for the next hurricane, but anything like last night happening again, I'd be out of here so fast!"

A large awning covering the back deck of the Ocean City Yacht Club was ripped from its moorings, ending up in a tree in the front yard of the OCYC. Around the corner on the Garden's, or North Point Lagoon, another awning ripped loose and ended up folded back onto the roof. There were widespread reports of broken windows from flying debris and damage to vehicles from fallen trees.

"It was the scariest thunderstorm I've ever lived through," said Susan Kelly, who was visiting friends on Battersea Road. "I could see sparks down the street, it looked like a transformer blew. Everything on the porch was flying around. The house was shaking. We've been through hurricanes that didn't seem as strong. The yard looked like a war zone and the awning in the back was destroyed. What a night!"

“We were very busy,” said Bowman. “Engine One was called to a major fire in Longport during the night.”

In Atlantic County, a state of emergency has been declared. As of 10 a.m. this morning Atlantic City Electric was reporting more than 162,000 customers without power in southern New Jersey including 7,153 in the 08213 (Cologne), 08215 (Egg Harbor City), 08217 (Dorothy), and 08240 (Pomona) zip codes, and 12,296 in the 08234 (Pleasantville/Egg Harbor Township) zip code.

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly issued a hazardous weather outlook at 4 a.m. Saturday, June 30 warning of strong to severe thunderstorms, with locally strong winds and hail for Saturday evening. The NWS asks residents not to overexert themselves in cleaning up debris from last night’s storm.

Check for updates to this story throughout the day.

A tree lays on top of cars at a home on East Station Road in the Gardens, near Battersea Road. A tree lays on top of cars at a home on East Station Road in the Gardens, near Battersea Road.


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