Community comes together to rebuild Mullica Hill farm badly damaged by tornado
It has been six months since Hurricane Ida devastated parts of New Jersey. The storm brought about an EF-3 tornado that ripped through parts of Gloucester County.
That tornado damaged homes and some farms in the areas as well. Wellacrest Farms in Mullica Hill was one of the farms in its path.
"We came back up at 6 a.m. and we kind of stopped in the driveway and the sun’s coming up and we didn't really see the devastation at night because you're too busy looking and taking care of things,” says Wellacrest Farms owner Marianne Eachus. “We both broke down and where do we go from here? What do we do?”
The tornado took out at least five buildings on the farm.
“There wasn’t a building here that wasn’t touched…if it was still standing it still needed new lumber for the roof and all that,” Eachus says.
The storm caused about $2 million worth of damage to the farm. Some of the barns collapsed right on the cows.
“We have about 1,500 animals here. So to lose 45 out of that, it’s pretty amazing,” says Eachus. “When that building came down and there were 260 cows in there, it was a miracle that any walked out.”
The family has been rebuilding since September. But the rising cost of lumber and dealing with insurance has not made the rebuilding process easy.
“It’s been hard. Financially, emotionally – every way you can think, it’s been hard,” Eachus says.
A barn on the farm cost $100,000 to rebuild. It was funded through donations from a GoFundMe page. It now stands as a symbol of how much the community stepped up to help its neighbors.
"The next few weeks after that were kind of a blur. We had people donating water, food. We had a lot of Amish helpers came for eight weeks and volunteered and replaced roofs on buildings,” says Eachus. "It really restores your faith in humanity and people. And it's a crazy world, and if we didn't have the help that we got, I don't think we would've been where we are today."