Lightning strikes, again, for Island Heights neighbors

Lightning damage in Island Heights
July 23, 2013 2:22:53 PM PDT
A lightning strike damaged two homes in Island Heights, New Jersey, affecting neighbors who had previous brushes with severe weather.

It was around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday when John Arvelo of Island Heights was jolted out of bed by a lightning bolt.

"I gave us the scare of a lifetime! We all jumped," said Arvelo.

The bolt knocked a half-moon window through a downstairs bedroom with such force a piece of the frame was embedded in the wall.

"It just blew it apart, it's like a little bomb hit it or something," Arvelo said.

Still, Arvelo is counting his blessings because his 93-year-old father, Phil, wasn't home at the time. It was his bedroom that was damaged, leaving his bed covered with sheet rock and debris.

"He would have been sleeping right here in this bed," Arvelo said. "God only knows what could have happened with the glass and the impact and the scare of that noise hitting so hard."

As it turns out Arvelo, and his father, had their houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy and were living in this home while they were repaired.

With smoke alarms sounding, firefighters pulled the insulation out from above the window and used heat sensors to check for fire.

Eventually, they realized the odor of smoke was coming from a garage belonging to neighbors Bill and Rosemary Welter.

"The firemen, they went in and they said 'Well you've got smoke got a little smoldering inside your garage,'" Bill Welter said.

They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but in fact the Welters home was damaged before by a lightning bolt that hit about a dozen years ago.

Perhaps even more incredibly, this is Rosemary Welter's third encounter with lightning. As a child, she was struck by a bolt when she was at camp.

"It's like you're flying all of a sudden and Bam! It throws you," she remembered.

Despite the scare, and the damage, Arvelo said he's just glad no one was hurt.

"I thank God that everybody was safe," he said. "That's number one."


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