The tail-end of Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on New Jersey overnight with at least 12 people killed, dozens of homes destroyed by tornados and roads turned in car-swallowing rivers due to flash floods.
Recovery efforts were underway Thursday in the Garden State and officials braced for potentially more deaths as the full scope of destruction emerged.
The National Weather Service confirmed the ferocious storm spawned two tornadoes in Mullica Hill and Edgewater Park overnight.
One was so strong it blew debris 23,000 feet into the sky.
Harrowing images of the aftermath showed at least 20 homes in Mullica Hill that were obliterated by one of the tornados. Some were reduced the piles of rubble, while others had roofs and walls ripped off.
First responders scoured the neighborhood looking for any casualties but reported none despite the level of destruction.
Footage posted online showed the tornado tearing towards the homes.
Elsewhere, cars and dumpsters that were carried away by surging floodwaters were later found piled on top of each other in Elizabeth.
At least 12 died in the storm, including a 70-year-old man swept away in his car in Passaic and a man whose body was found inside a car buried up to its hood in dirt in Milford Borough.
Four people, including a married couple — aged 72 and 71 — their 38-year-old son and a 33-year-old neighbor – were found dead in an Oakwood Plaza apartment complex in Elizabeth.
Two people were killed in Hillsborough, another two in Bridgewater and one in South Plainfield, according to the Associated Press and NJ.com.
About 600 were left homeless after rain flooded at the apartment complex in Elizabeth where the four people died, officials said.
Neighbors reported hearing screaming from the complex at about 11pm as water surged down the street.
Greg Turner told the Associated Press his 87-year-old mother called 911 at about 8pm because of rising water in her apartment.
The water was already too high by the time he could reach her. When rescuers finally managed to cut through the floor of the apartment above her, the water was already up to her neck.
“She lost everything,” Turner said.
The storm also upended transportation with roads completely submerged by flash floods. Newark International Airport shutdown overnight but restarted limited flights Thursday morning. The NJ Transit suspended rail services, except the Atlantic City Rail Line, and the Newark Light Rail was also halted.
Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency in the storm’s aftermath, vowing to help residents with the damage.
“There is a lot of hurt in New Jersey,” he said.
With Post wires