Exhibit highlights devastation and hope

Historical society focuses on September tornado in Mullica Hill

The Harrison Township Historical Society currently features an exhibit on the shocking and destructive F3 tornado that blew through Mullica Hill in September of last year.

Included are artifacts such as a severely dented mile marker sign originally at Bridgeton Pike and a video that showcases CCTV footage of Hurricane Ida and its aftermath. An instrumental version of Green Day’s song “Wake Me Up When September Ends” can be heard in the background.

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A wall featuring quotes from people in Mullica Hill – including residents and local officials – gives visitors insight into what people were thinking both during and after the tornado, whose winds reached as high as 150 mph, according to 6ABC.

“I laid on top of my girls and Troy (Thomas) laid, and within, I mean literally three seconds, I looked up and there was the sky,” said Ashley Thomas, a resident whose quote is displayed on the wall.

“The township had to tag the houses that were structurally unsafe,” reads a quote from Deputy Mayor Julie DeLaurentis. “And it’s just from house to house to house.”

In the midst of the devastation, the community came together to help those most affected, specifically residents of Marvin and Josephine Lane, Gangemi Lane, Salvatore and Turtle Creek Drive, Clems Run, Winding Way and Timber Lane. 

One aspect highlighted in the museum is a display of donations provided by local businesses, as well as the support of the federal government, demonstrated by a letter to the mayor from President Joe Biden.

“The first time I saw the exhibit I was truly moved,” said Mullica Hill Mayor Louis Manzo, “over the attention to detail and the sequencing of the exhibit, which ultimately included the outpouring of support from our residents and the region. And that’s what I hope the message is: That regardless of what happens, we all are motivated to drop everything and help those in our community who are the most impacted by an event. 

“The resilience displayed was inspiring,” Manzo added, “and proves the Maya Angelou quote, ‘We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.’ Imagine if that sentiment was the overriding mindset of everyone, especially our elected leaders?”

The tornado exhibit is free and open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.  It runs through Dec. 4.

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