SPRINGFIELD, NJ - In the immediate aftermath of the tornado that hit Springfield on Wednesday afternoon, those in town during the storm began to share stories of what they experienced.
Lainie Sokolsky, a Fanwood resident who works in Springfield was one of those eyewitnesses. Sokolsky was on her lunch break when the tornado touched down, but described what she and her coworkers saw during the storm, as well as right afterward.
"I was driving back, so I actually drove through the debris field," Sokolsky said. "it was about maybe 200 feet from my parking lot."
Sokolsky said that she works at the office building located at 966 S Springfield Ave., which is on the side of Route 22 where the tornado struck.
"Everybody else was in the building, and from what I understand...the lights flickered, the building shook, and then everybody evacuated down to the basement," Sokolsky added.
Along with the debris plastered along the roadway and nearby areas, Sokolsky also described a smell of smoke. While she did not see it directly, she believed a transformer may have blown and caught on fire.
As the storm dissipated, residential and commercial buildings around Route 22 in the area where the tornado made contact did lose power. The wind also took down several trees in town.
After coming up from the basement, Sokolsky said that she and her coworkers saw solar panels from the building next door down on the ground. The tornado had also taken off some of the roofing and metal flashing materials from her building as well.
Sokolsky noted that two of the offices in her building had their ceiling tiles pulled out, exposing them completely to the outside elements. As she was driving back to her office, she said that a piece of debris even punctured the front of her car and that she had to stop and take it out before she continued driving.
"One minute, it was a little dark, threatening, it started to drizzle and then all of the sudden, within five minutes, we're in this debris storm," Sokolsky said.
"It was a little surreal," she added. "It wasn't until after that you kind of started shaking, like 'Oh my gosh, I was just outside and anything could have happened.'"
The tornado registered winds of 70 mph, which marked it as an EF-0. Any tornado in that classification bracket has winds between 65 and 85 mph. Along with the tornado, Springfield and Union County were also under a weather warning that lasted until 9:00 p.m.