• ‘A war zone:' Central Florida remembers deadly 1998 tornadoes


    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Thursday marked a very important day in Florida history.

    Twenty years ago, Florida experienced its deadliest tornado streak ever.

    Forty-two people were killed in Central Florida as powerful tornadoes swept from Kissimmee to Daytona Beach and from Sanford through Winter Garden.  

    Photos: 1998 tornadoes in Central Florida

    Some victims in a neighborhood on Dawn Avenue and Morning Light Way in Kissimmee weren’t located for days. 

    Several of the survivors stayed in the neighborhood, and they said they’ll never forget what it was like. 

    Read: Tornado Facts and Safety

    “It’s still, like, a nightmare to me,” said survivor Dennis Wolfe. 

    1998 tornadoes
    1998 tornadoes
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.
    1998 tornadoes
    1998 tornadoes
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Wolfe and his wife remember the destruction after nine tornadoes barreled through their neighborhood, killing 42 people and injuring 250. 

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    “When that tornado hit, it just destroyed everything. We’re sitting there saying the Lord’s Prayer, and we could hear that whistle so you know it’s real close,” said Wolfe said. 

    The death toll kept rising days after the tornadoes because many of the victims were buried in debris. 

    Search teams used dogs to help find the missing. 

    WATCH: Video of 1998 tornadoes

    The Wolfes' son lost his best friend that night. 

    The DeVault family was also home that night, and family members said their lives and community were changed forever. 

    “A war zone is what it looked like to me. It was just complete devastation,” said Kala DeVault. 

    DeVault said the neighborhood was tight knit and many lost friends along with family. 

    “One of our boys played soccer with the one that had the baby ripped out of the parents’ arms, and one of our boys played street hockey with one of the boys who was found in the back days later. He was one of the last ones found. It was very scary, very heartbreaking and just unbelievable,” she said. 

    The DeVaults said they now have an emergency weather radio.

    WATCH: What you need to know about tornadoes 

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