Strong storms that came through portions of Ocean County Thursday evening resulted in the closure of Well Mills County Park, Route 532, Waretown, to the public because of extensive damage.
“Trees were snapped in half, and the playground equipment also sustained damage,” said Michael Mangum, Director, Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We have hundreds of trees down and until we can clear them, we will keep the park closed to the public for safety reasons.”
The park is scheduled to be closed through the weekend and the site will be reassessed on Monday.
According to Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy, the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, the National Weather Service and local Offices of Emergency Management to document storm damage.
Mastronardy said damaged areas of Ocean County include Wells Mills County Park, Waretown, the area of Cedar Bridge Tavern Historic Site in Barnegat Township, the dock area of Barnegat Township and the area of Arnold Avenue on Long Beach Island where several homes suffered extensive damage.
The Cedar Bridge Tavern Historic Site is open to the public and can be accessed only from the south on Route 614.
“My office is assisting the National Weather Service in determining whether the damage was caused by tornadoes,” Mastronardy said.
He added that aerial drone video is being taken in the areas of the damage. The work is being supervised by Captain Joseph Greene of the Sheriff’s Office Drone Unit and Captain David Schenk of the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management.
Mastronardy said sheriff’s officers were dispatched to various areas of the County during the Thursday night storms to check on damage and also on the well-being of residents.
“Our officers were going door to door to check on our residents,” Mastronardy said.
“We appreciate the Sheriff’s Office working with Parks and Recreation and reaching out directly to our residents during this time,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “These were dangerous and damaging storms that hit the County.”
“We will continue to clean up our park sites and reopen them to the public once that work is complete,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Closing the park helps us keep the public and our staff safe. Public safety is paramount.”