On Sept. 1, 2021, a tornado of historic magnitude tore through Mullica Hill, leaving jagged scars through Harrison Township’s beautiful landscape and destroying homes and properties. Although the community has begun to heal and rebuild, evidence of the tornado’s path bears witness every day to the destruction that it caused. Some are still living in temporary housing as they endure the long process of rebuilding.
This enormous storm and the devastation it caused was unprecedented. And yet, in its aftermath, the best of humanity emerged from following the worst of days. Local officials and legions of volunteers came to the aid of those whose homes and livelihoods had been damaged or lost. An equally unprecedented outpouring of goods, services and financial donations supported those who were impacted.
Recognizing the significance of these events, the Harrison Township Historical Society sponsored an oral history project to record the experiences of affected residents, first responders, local officials and volunteers. With support from the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission at Rowan College of South Jersey in partnership with the New Jersey Historical Commission/Department of State engaged the services of Melissa Ziobro, Specialist professor of public history at Monmouth University, to design and conduct the interviews.
With close to 20 years of experience with oral history, she currently serves as the president of oral history in the Mid-Atlantic region and is eminently qualified to carry out this important work.
On Sunday, Sept. 25, Ziobro will discuss her work at the society’s Richwood Academy Cultural Center at 836 Lambs Rd., Richwood, NJ. Her presentation, “I Looked Up and There was Sky: The 2021 Mullica Hill Tornado,” begins at 3 p.m. Free tickets to attend in person are available at the Society’s Facebook page, where the lecture will also be livestreamed and archived.
On Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, the Society’s new exhibition, “Tornado,” opens at Old Town Hall Museum. This new installation features selections from the interviews, as well as photography, video and artifacts to tell the story of the storm and its aftermath and will continue on view Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. through Dec. 4. Admission is free.
Old Town Hall Museum is located in the heart of Mullica Hill’s Historic District at 62 South Main St. For museum and program information, visit HarrisonHistorical.com and the society’s Facebook page.