Tornado damages FL homes

A tornado damaged 100 homes in central Florida Thursday while the Panhandle faced a flood threat.

BY SUSAN KIM | OCALA, Fla. | April 8, 2005

A tornado damaged 100 homes in central Florida Thursday while the Panhandle faced a flood threat.

Four people were injured, and 100 homes and business damaged or destroyed in Marion County in the wake of a possible tornado that struck Thursday afternoon, said local first responders.

Residential damage ranges from minor damage to complete destruction, said Heather Danenhower, spokesperson for Marion County Fire and Rescue.

Three injuries were vehicle-related, she said.

A Salvation Army shelter was activated Thursday night, said Dennis Strow, spokesperson for the Marion County sheriff’s office. The Salvation Army remained on the scene Friday assisting those affected by the storm.

National Weather Service experts were on the scene Friday morning to confirm whether the damage was caused by a tornado or by straight-line winds.

“It appeared to bounce diagonally across the county,” said Danenhower. “There are pockets of destruction. Some areas are hit very hard, some more lightly.”

The southwest part of the county was hit the hardest, she added. “About 55-65 homes there have minor to very significant damage,” she said. “I saw a mobile home with the living room simply gone.”

Fortunately the storms did not hit an area already suffering from long-standing hurricane damage, added Strow.

At the Ocala International Airport, planes were flipped and hangar doors were torn off by strong winds.

This line of strong storms added to flood worries in the Florida Panhandle. The Apalachicola and Chipola rivers were rising. Several rivers in the area were above flood stage and beginning to threaten homes.

The Salvation Army was on the scene in the Panhandle as well, providing hot meals, beverages and snacks to residents and responders alike.

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