Storms drench Mid-Atlantic

Record-setting rainfalls drenched parts of the Mid-Atlantic Tuesday as a strong storm system moved up the east coast, spawning tornadoes in southern New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | July 28, 2004


Record-setting rainfalls drenched parts of the Mid-Atlantic Tuesday as a strong storm system moved up the east coast, spawning tornadoes in southern New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.

An F-1 twister struck a small section of Woodland Township in Burlington County, N.J. Two injuries were reported as the tornado touched down near the New Lisbon Developmental Center, knocking down trees and damaging several nearby buildings. The tornado just missed the main residential building where 500 people are housed.

"If the tornado had moved more to the right, it would've done a lot more damage," said Jim Eberwine, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J. "But it did quite a bit of damage to that area anyway."

Fortunately, Eberwine said, twisters on average don't stay on the ground very long when they do strike New Jersey. "They aren't too common here, and when they do happen, they're quick-hitters," he said.

Hundreds of residents in Burlington County also suffered severe flooding earlier this month. Local churches in that area have been responding to flood-related needs and are developing a long-term response plan as well.

June Stitzinger-Clark, disaster response coordinator for the New Jersey conference of the United Methodist Church, said she'd not heard any tornado-related requests for help from local pastors as of yet. She was also surprised to hear about a tornado hitting the state, especially because it seemed like another hit after an already rough month for Burlington County.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, also saw an F-1 tornado roll through Tuesday evening. It cut a two-mile path through the southern part of the county, damaging farm buildings, flipping a semi-trick, and tearing off several roofs.

"Fortunately it hit a rural area, so there was very, very little residential damage," said Randy Gockley, Emergency Management Coordinator for Lancaster County. "But it did destroy several farm buildings and caused some crop damage."

Gockley added that the damaged farms belonged to Amish families. "They band together very well, and by the end of the week, you won't even know a tornado went through," he said. "It'll be like it never happened because they build so quickly."

In Maryland, heavy rains set records across the state. Flood warnings were posted for counties across the state Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Flash flooding along roads had rescue workers assisting numerous stranded motorists who were caught off-guard by the quick-rising waters. High winds also knocked down scaffolding on the Key Bridge near Baltimore, forcing temporary closure of the bridge.

Flooding also slowed down some service on the Washington, D.C., metro due to flooding in several stations.

The forecast calls for drier weather for Thursday, giving the region a chance to dry out before more storms move into the area for the weekend.


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