By now, you have probably heard that the National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-1 tornado, which started in Cinnaminson, crossed over Haines Mill road in Delran on Saturday evening, April 1st. The damage was widespread from Brown Street to Haines Mill Road, the river to the Cinnaminson border and the edge of Moorestown and locations in between. I witnessed more basketball backboards that had snapped than I could count, trampolines in neighbors’ yards, street lights dropped while still lit, and a multitude of damaged siding. What struck me most were the cars buried under trees in several driveways and the downed tree branches stacked as high and wide as one could imagine.
But, the most amazing story I heard today while visiting many of our neighbors was from the man who ran across the street to help his senior citizen neighbor immediately after her tree had fallen into her home. She was home alone as her husband was in the hospital. Her neighbor, one of his children, and another neighbor’s child found her in tears, stunned and just sitting in her family room. They helped her out of her home and stayed with her until her son came to take her to safety at the home of one of her family members. Today, one of the many tree crews all over Delran was skillfully removing two huge tree trunks that had impaled themselves into her roof.
Another Delran resident who is new to town said that after fixing his own damaged fence last night, he realized that his neighbor’s fence was also damaged. He and that neighbor’s son fixed the fence last night just after the storm passed. He said that the one good thing that came from the storm last night was that after moving in several months ago, he finally got to meet so many of his new neighbors.
There were many more stories but the last of the many amazing stories that I would like to share here came from an unlikely person. She was a resident of Moorestown who, on her way home from a quick trip to Target, was returning home on Haines Mill Road and was trapped between the downed trees at Conrow Road, the transformer downed near Fox Chase Drive, and the home on Waterford Drive from the story above. On a frantic call to her husband, he said, “Try to find someone who will let you in their house!” With all the lights in that area of Tenby Chase out, she ran to the door of an unknown resident, knocked, and asked if she could ride out the storm in the safety of their home. They welcomed her in and she was shaken but safe.
I met her today, back on Haines Mill Road, climbing up onto what we all call “Sign Hill” to take pictures of the incredible sight of all the downed trees next to the water tower. I said to her, “This is an unbelievable sight, isn’t it?” She replied, “I had to return to the scene after the most terrifying night I had last night!”
There were dozens of other stories that our neighbors shared with me today that made me so proud of our town. This terrible storm allowed all of us to be the kind of person we often see when our Delran neighbors, friends, and family need our help. I was overwhelmed by reminders today of why I love this town.
Outside of Delran, Cinnaminson encountered its own similar damage, including Lakeview Cemetery, experiencing closure on Palm Sunday for what might be the first time in its existence. So many in our Delran family felt the magnitude of what happened last night by that closure. The next few days will be difficult for residents as we approach Passover and Easter and work to repair and rebuild from this natural disaster. Some residents have been displaced from their homes, and some are still awaiting the restoration of power from PSEG.
I have begun the process of authorizing overtime for our Public Works employees and Delran Police Department to continue cleanup efforts and maintain safety due to downed power lines and other concerns. I will be working alongside our township administrator, Joseph Bellina, to ensure that the State of NJ Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, and other necessary departments are actively engaged and all resources will be made available to assist our residents with repairs, and that those who were displaced from their homes due to extreme damage will have all available resources and help available.
I would like to thank the many tree services, including Nelson Tree Service who were on Haines Mill road for 12 hours, Delran Fire Department, Delran EMS, the Delran Police Department, and most especially all Delran neighbors, friends, and family who have spent the last two days demonstrating what it means to be a part of our Delran family, working around the clock to assist one another.
Please continue to check in on your neighbors and friends and do what you can to help them. If you are aware of a specific resident experiencing hardship as a result of this natural disaster, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] so that I can help direct them to available resources.