A confirmed EF-3 tornado ripped several homes apart in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, as remnants of Ida slammed the entire region on Wednesday, with debris from destroyed homes traveling miles.
The tornado, which had peak winds of 150 mph, destroyed at least nine homes, with some leveled to their foundations, along Josephine and Marvin lanes early Wednesday evening.
One resident said he watched his neighbor’s home being torn apart while with his wife and children.
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“I heard the rumble and I seen stuff flying and I told my wife and kids to get in the basement,” he said. “And I looked out the window and I seen their house going. First thing I did was run over to their house to make sure they were alright.”
Glen Pickell said he heard the tornado warning on the news but did not think it would materialize, telling his worried son "we don't get tornadoes."
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“We didn’t think anything was going to happen then all of a sudden you hear the rumbling," Pickell said. "You look outside and it’s like everybody get your butts in the basement. It didn’t last that long. Maybe five minutes. But once it was over, it's crazy. You could see the damage it did.”
Firefighters and first responders scoured the neighborhood looking for possible victims that may have been trapped in the rubble of damaged homes.
“Every house we’ve checked, they’re safe,” one firefighter told NBC10.
The firefighter said he had never seen anything like Wednesday’s destruction in Mullica Hill.
The National Weather Service reported that debris from some of the destroyed homes was pulled into the tornado and reached the atmosphere, traveling around 23,000 feet into the air before landing miles away.
Some of the debris landed as far Mercer County, New Jersey, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a distance of about 60 miles from Mullica Hill for each location.