News

Perth Amboy Residents Hit By ‘Freight Train’

Just Like NYC, Tornado-Like Storm Lowers Boom On N.J.
Perth Amboy storm damage

This tree by the marina was snapped like a twig by brute force winds during the tornado-like storm that his the tri-state area on Sept. 16, 2010.

Lou Young headshot Lou Young
A native New Yorker, Lou Young joined CBS 2 in June 1994. He has...
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PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS/ WCBS880) — If it’s all about “location, location, location,” Perth Amboy is right next to Staten Island.

And that explains why the damage is similar.

The tattered flag near the old Tottenville ferry tells the tale. The part of Perth Amboy closest to the water got hammered in the storm.

Holly Figueroa was one of the first to feel its power.

“It sounded like freight trains coming through my sitting room where I was watching TV,” Figueroa told CBS 2’s Lou Young. “I never seen anything like it. I was really petrified.”

Wilda Diaz is the mayor of Perth Amboy. She said her town took a bad scare, but got off mercifully easy considering what they all saw.

“I have been through storms, but not like this,” Diaz said.

Trees took down power lines. Roofs were damaged. Some windows were broken and a big tree near the marinas was snapped like a twig by winds the scared the life out of the people on their boats.

SEE: More Photos of the Storm
WATCH: Video coverage of the storm

Joe Lucarelli said he felt his 14,000 pound boat trying to lift out of the water.

“I felt the boat lifting up. Normally a boat’s going to rock back and forth. This was actually going like that up and down and the water was calm. Literally things were swirling, not going straight, they were going in a circle,” Lucarelli said.

Richie Groze took us into his backyard to show us where the storm first appeared out of the sky — swirling wind-driven clouds that shredded the tree tops and sent people scrambling.

“Hell broke loose,” Groze said. “Everybody started screaming, little kids in the neighborhood, everybody started screaming and ran in to the house and then that’s when it hit.”

Groze’s block was still without power most of day as PSE&G crews worked to put the local grid back together.

One tree fell on a detached garage and brought it to the ground.

”It was crazy. I was actually sleeping. It woke me up. The windows were shaking, the AC started to kind of move and very scary,” resident Rosa Pena said.

This wasn’t like the storms earlier this year where trees in water-soaked soiled toppled, the roots in the air. This time trees were broken by brute wind force. Residents reported a circular motion to the wind that suggests tornado.

“It was horrible. It was just like a movie,” one resident said.