Residents who live near a military base in South Jersey experienced a rude awakening early Monday morning.
Sirens that could be heard from miles away were activated across Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst around 1 a.m. The alarming noise reached ten different communities in Ocean and Burlington Counties.
“It woke me up,” said Laura Desilva of Manchester Township. “I heard all these sirens.”
“Blares, blares and blares!” said Dawn Verello of Manchester Township. “It was kind of scary after five minutes because it didn’t cut off.”
Some residents who heard the sirens feared the worst.
“I thought it was a catastrophe,” said Bernice Cribbin of Manchester Township. “I don’t think they should do it then or they should let people know they’re going to do this.”
Close to 42,000 people work and live on the joint base. The sirens startled many of them as well.
"During the sirens, of course it was waking the children up," said Angel Hartman. "But it's just all part of something you accept living on a military base."
Joint Base officials say they had previously posted a notice on their Facebook page about an operational readiness exercise taking place from October 10 to October 17. A new notification system for all three sections of the base is being tested as part of the exercise. A technical problem activated the sirens in the middle of the night however, according to officials.
"We want to be protected? Well, we have to go with the consequences of what they have to do to protect us," said Norma Catananzi of Manchester Township.
“These guys have to do what they have to do,” said Verello. “It’s the sound of freedom.”
Officials say the technical issue is being addressed to prevent the sirens from going off again in the middle of the night.