For Bob Fredericks and his neighbors along Applegate Road in Springfield, Burlington County, the “storm of the century” seems to repeat itself annually.
Fredericks, 60, and a group of like-minded residents of the South Jersey community woke up early Sunday, and armed with chainsaws, cleared more than 10 large trees that were toppled overnight because of a tornado that touched down. The National Weather Service rated the twister an E-1 — the second-lowest level on an international scale measuring the storms — and said it brought winds up to 80-90 mph at its peak.
The neighbors in Springfield jokingly refer to themselves as the “chainsaw gang.” But, in reality, there’s little to laugh about the ritual, as it repeats itself with alarming frequency.
“I’ve been here 20 years. My first 15, we had winds, but this is the first time annually we’ve had trees uprooted,” Fredericks said Sunday after hours of sawing downed limbs. “This was tougher than [Hurricane] Sandy. It really was something else.”
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Mount Holly office said the storm touched down at 10:25 p.m. near the intersection of Route 206 and Columbus Jobstown Road. It carved an eight-mile path east, causing “significant tree damage” as it uprooted trunks and scattered torn limbs, the weather service said in a statement. No injuries were reported.
Fredericks watched the storm roll through. And though he didn’t see the stereotypical funnel-shaped clouds — no “Wizard of Oz moment,” as he put it — the winds were intimidating.
“It was just bending the trees,” he said. “Some of the trees that came up, the diameter of them was 20 feet. These are 40-foot tall trees that just got knocked down effortlessly.”