Numerous roads are shut down and residents are without power after Freehold Borough suffered extensive damage from a storm packing high winds overnight.
Mayor Nolan Higgins said he issued a state of emergency, in part to allow expected cleanup and overtime costs to be covered in the municipal budget.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. The storm hit shortly after 11 p.m.
Storms packing heavy rains and lightning hit Monmouth and Ocean counties early Saturday afternoon. Lakewood appeared to be the hardest-hit municipality, along with Toms River and Brick Townships.
About 30,000 customers overall lost power during the storms.
At midnight Saturday, more than 16,000 customers were without power. A majority of the new outages occurred in Monmouth and Mercer counties, and Freehold Borough and Freehold Township were hit particularly hard.
Officials are asking all traffic to stay away from borough roads due to numerous downed trees and power company crews working to restore outages.
“It looks like 90 per cent of the town is without power and there’s a tremendous amout of tree damage,’’ Higgins said. “We’re still assessing things. JCP&L is bringing in extra crews and trucks to help.’’
Residents in the Freehold area, including the township, said they’ve rarely seen this extent of weather damage in the county seat.
“I survived Irene (tropical storm last year) and I’ll tell you it’s pretty darned close,’’ said Steve August, who runs a plumbing business on Center Street.
On Broadway, near Freehold High School, the road is blocked by numerous fallen trees, including one that crushed a car in the middle of the road. Residents said the driver escaped without being injured.
Barbara Taylor, who lives on Dutch Lane, said she and her husband were watching Olympic coverage Saturday night when winds picked up.
“The lights went out and there was a big crash,’’ she said.
A tree on the roof of Taylor’s house and several other trees throughout the property were uprooted.
“We called the tree service right after it happened and they originally said they’d come Monday. But I’m sure it will take longer than that by the time they get to everybody,’’ she said.
Freehold Borough Sgt. Andrew DeMuth said they are still going street by street to assess damages and that more information will be forthcoming.