Stafford Township, NJ — Stafford Township apparently took the brunt of a July 6 thunderstorm that left many roads inundated and emergency responders very busy. Jonathan O’Brien, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, said a reading of nearly 6 inches was recorded in the northwest area of Stafford.
“That was the highest measurable amount recorded in Southern Ocean County,” said O’Brien. “Most of that rain fell within a two-hour time period, so that is an awful lot of rain, and there was flash flooding. It’s possible that some areas in Stafford and other spots got more because the rain was very localized.”
O’Brien said that late in the morning, there were reports of numerous pop-up storms.
“It was kind of like what you see in Florida,” he said. “It was very humid, and that can cause these types of storms to develop really quickly. Usually they’re over in a few minutes. But here, a lot of those storms merged, allowing them to redevelop and rebuild into something much larger.”
On its Facebook page, the Stafford Police Department posted that “the municipality is experiencing severe flooding in multiple sections of the town. Please do not joy ride to look, many vehicles are getting stuck in high waters.”
Authorities were initially asking for a 2.5-ton high-water truck and a boat as the water depth reached 3 feet in some areas. But just before 4 p.m., Stafford police informed the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office that the situation in Ocean Acres was manageable with its own resources.
Stafford Emergency Medical Services reported it was dispatched to multiple calls throughout the town along with the volunteer fire company due to flash flooding. Calls ranged from water rescue assignments to possible structure fires as well as answering medicals.
“Due to all the calls happening back to back, mutual aid was requested to assist us,” the squad said. “We set up an EMS Command Post at our Ocean Acres building, which was also utilized as a treatment triage area. During this time, the squad responded to 16 calls.”
“I’ve lived in town for 37 years, and that was the second-worst storm I’ve ever seen,” said Barnegat Township Mayor Alfonso Cirulli. “My driveway was underwater. It was unbelievable. I had heard reports of 5 to 6 inches. Fortunately, once the rain stopped, the flood waters receded pretty quickly.”
The Barnegat Volunteer Fire Co. posted that it responded to at least 14 emergencies during and shortly after the storm. These included structure fires, a fully involved vehicle fire, overturned motor vehicle, two lightning strikes, a gas leak, fire alarms, electrical hazards, road flooding and multiple water rescues of people trapped in vehicles in flood water.
“We’re thankful no one was injured on these emergencies and everyone was able to be reunited with their families,” the company said. “All too often we forget how quickly the weather can change or even just how severe the storm can get.”
— Eric Englund