Largest Dairy Farm in New Jersey Almost Entirely Destroyed in One of State’s Most Intense Tornadoes Ever

by Kati Michelle

Hurricane Ida first pummeled the Gulf leaving people and livestock stuck, awaiting rescue from thick mud and deep floodwaters. The remnants of Hurricane Ida then took the form of some of the worst storms the Northeast has ever seen. With a climbing death toll, scenes of water overtaking buses and subways are going to be the norm as the North begins a clean-up of over $40 billion in estimated damages.

Still, in the midst of all the chaos, New Jersey has a lot to be grateful for– while the tornado did wreak havoc on the farm itself, the Eachus family survived through the very close call.

Fox Business gathered statements from Wellacrest dairy farm owners Marianne and Wally Eachus, who couldn’t hold back their tears as they looked between the damage and each other.

“What are we going to do?” the duo cried out.

Wellacrest Dairy Farm: the Damage Assessment

Marianne and Wally did not receive much notice at all that the tornado in question was even approaching. In fact, the duo’s day had been largely uninterrupted by anything out of the ordinary leading up to an emergency text received at the dinner table. The text made things very clear. A tornado was not just likely, but already touched down and heading straight towards them. The two observed intimidating clouds and a frightening noise which Marianne likened to the sound of a freight train. They barely made it to the basement before the tornado did what tornadoes do: mass destruction. What’s more, the entire event lasted less than a carwash– somewhere around three minutes.

After the commotion died down, Marianne and Wally joined their family outside to assess the damages to the farm. The sights they beheld were the stuff of nightmares. All their family’s hard work and legacy appeared to be undone. On top of fallen grain silos, the tornado completely leveled out the ground in some parts with barns reduced to concrete, missing roofing, uprooted trees, and equipment now rendered useless.

All Eachus could muster up is that “There was just metal, wood, debris, everywhere.”

The tragedy continued to unfold as the farm owners tried to take a head count of their cows. Hundreds needed rescuing from under collapsed barns. Another 100 are still missing days after the tornado’s departure. The death toll stands at around thirteen cows but may climb if the missing ones aren’t returned soon.

Wellacrest: the Legacy

Farmers are undeniably heroes and Mullica Hill residents are banding together for the Wellacrest Farm because they agree. Established in 1943, Wellacrest Farms came about from the parents of Wally Eachus. After meeting Marianne, Wally and she took over the farm a couple of decades ago. Now, their children are involved in its day to day operations.

The impact of Wellacrest on the local community is massive. They produce over 17 million pounds of milk each year and partner with other farmers to share and sell their crops. Between the 1400 cows they have amassed over the years, half of them are milking cows. Between GoFundMe’s and food donations, the local community is doing what it can to get Wellacrest back on its feet.

You can catch a tour of the Farm and drone footage of all the damage here.