Hundreds forced to evacuate when funnel cloud forms over ceremony
POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 8:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 8:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A sudden storm forced hundreds to evacuate Absegami High School's graduation ceremony in Galloway, New Jersey Thursday when hail begin falling from the sky.
"I saw a lot of hail, it looked like snow on the side of the road," said Joshua Benjamin.
"We were walking towards the school and there was this huge clap of thunder 20 feet away from us," added George Awad.
The thunder and dark clouds surrounded the hundreds in attendance at approximately 6:30 p.m. The pouring rain and hail caused them to take cover whereever possible. Some ran for their cars, while others ducked under the school bleachers.
"Rain came at us like a little wall, coming straight at us," said Benjamin.
It didn't take long for safety officials to arrive on scene, and scan for damages. Surrounding streets quickly became backed up, with traffic at a stand still.
"There were a lot of cops everywhere, people were just getting the heck out of there," said Awad.
The storm didn't just stop at Absegami. Firefighters were called to a home in nearby Linwood after a bolt of lightning hit a transformer, knocking out power.
"Its pretty exciting to me, I like storms, so it didn't bother me," said witness Bill Jensen.
The rainstorm quickly came to an end, and the sky opened up, but the memory of being in a springtime hailstorm will remain with those who saw its power first hand.
"We have a giant list of reckless things we have done, and this definitely tops the lists of being in this storm, definitely tops the list," said Benjamin.