TOMS RIVER – A boater is still reported missing after he went out before the heavy storms yesterday.
The Coast Guard confirmed that there is still an active search for the boater, and that he was from Ocean Gate. No further information about his identity was provided.
The boater was rowing a rowboat from Ocean Gate beach into the Toms River. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call the Sector Delaware Bay Command Center at 215-271-4942
While winds were severe throughout the area, Toms River seemed to get the brunt of it. Residents reported seeing tornadoes blow through the area as heavy winds damaged trees and fences.
“At approximately 3:30 p.m. it appears a tornado touched down in the area of Bay Avenue between Hooper Avenue and Vaughn Avenue. Over 100 calls were received regarding fallen trees on houses and cars, wires down, traffic signals out and destroyed property,” Toms River Police wrote on their Facebook page.
Although people saw the tornado, it wasn’t yet determined that’s what it was. “No weather agency has contacted us to identify the storm type classification,” a police spokesman said.
Volunteers at the First Assembly of God church at the corner of Bay Avenue and Cedar Grove Road said they had trees down and a live wires in the area.
“This thing came barreling through,” said Paul Hulse of Just Believe in a video he made right after. He showed broken windows and damaged homes, and drivers trying to navigate the roads. Fire trucks and police officers were on the scene quickly. Good Samaritans were out, checking on each other and trying to get debris out of the way. One driver pulled over in the church’s parking lot after he said that he drove in the tornado and it spun his car.
Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill wrote on Facebook that no one was injured. He said that the main damage was in the area of Brookside Drive, Bay Avenue, Cedar Grove Road, Twin Oaks Drive, and Derry Drive.
Numerous first responders came out, as well as the Department of Public Works, Toms River Police, Toms River Office of Emergency Management, Ocean County Sheriff’s Officers, Volunteer Fire Departments, Toms River Shade Tree and Toms River Parks, and Buildings and Grounds.
Approximately 4,000 homes lost power during the storm. Jersey Central Power & Light worked for hours to get power back on and cleared trees from power lines.
The township issued a reminder that people clearing brush and tree limbs from their properties need to dispose of it separately from other debris. Public Works will grind and recycle all vegetative debris. Other debris, such as fencing, needs to go to the landfill even if it is wooden.
A press release from the township said the “apparent tornado” touched down “in the Melody Park and Twin Oaks neighborhoods of Toms River and again in the area of Pepper Tree resulting in hundreds of downed trees, private property damage to homes, cars, decks, pools, vehicles and fences.”
A 24-foot trailer went airborne and was dropped on a neighboring property, officials said. “Twenty-four Township workers using cutting equipment and three roll-off trucks, three wheel loaders, two dump trucks, one bucket truck and eight utility vehicles cut and removed ten 30-yard dumpsters of brush and tree limbs from roadways.”
There had been tornadoes reported by residents in the past, usually associated with larger storm systems. Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused a great deal of damage and people in the southern end of the county reported tornadoes.