Officials confirm EF1 tornado touched down in Sussex County Tuesday

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STANHOPE -

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a category EF-1 tornado touched down Tuesday night in Sussex County.

The twister caused damage in Stanhope and parts of Hopatcong.

“It was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced,” says Stanhope resident Samantha Gajda, who says that trees came tumbling down on her property, damaging her home.

“Something had hit my house. I thought it was my patio table. My downstairs window blew in. My whole house shook,” she says.

RELATED: Sussex County high school closed amid damage from storm

The storm ripped through the Stanhope neighborhood quickly, uprooting trees and snapping others in half. Dan Makosky says that his family recorded video of transformers popping as the storm grew stronger. He says that they soon after headed for the basement of their home.

“The alerts on the phone – all four phones went off. And the wind was really, really picking up,” he says.

The storm knocked out power to most of the town. Charlotte Zawachi says that trees tore down power lines, which landed on her property. She says that she was driving home during the storm.

“The sky was gray and ugly. It was definitely not a normal sky,” she says.

Zawachi says that a tree fell on to her driveway where she normally parks.

The storm also caused damage to Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope. The school had to be evacuated Tuesday evening while an athletics banquet was going on. The school was closed Wednesday while the damage was assessed.

“There’s a rooftop AC unit that got some damage and of course the portico…has extensive damage to the ceiling title structure underneath,” says Stanhope borough administrator Brian McNeily.

The National Weather Service says that winds from the storm were upwards of 86 mph to 100 mph.

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