DELAND, Fla. — Across DeLand on Wednesday, neighbors continued cleaning up from Tuesday’s EF-2 tornado that ripped apart homes and obliterated trees.
Meteorologists for the local weather office surveyed the damages Wednesday and determined that the extensive damage was, in fact, from a tornado with peak winds between 105 and 115 mph. The tornado tracked for 4.6 miles and with a width of 550 yards.
To put that into perspective, that’s essentially the width of five-and-a-half football fields.
“We’ve been through all the hurricanes since ’76,” Volusia County resident William Schrouder said. “Nothing like this. This was unbelievable.”
This tornado was rare for Florida in both intensity and width, especially being caused by summer afternoon thunderstorms. Usually, sea breeze summer afternoon storms can cause brief rotations, which can touch down and cause damage. Often these rotations are brief and less than 200 yards wide.
The twister started at 3:48 p.m. about 3 miles west of DeLand and traveled through until about 2 miles northeast of Deland, lifting off the ground.
Only one person ended up going to a hospital following the storm. County officials said the person’s injuries are minor and they will be OK.
“It was coming by us so fast; it was just solid white and you could see these black shadows flying by,” said Candy Townsend, a DeLand business owner.
“If that was 105 (mph winds), I would hate to be sitting in 150,” business owner Tom Townsend said. “We’ve been through twelve hurricanes, never seen anything like this. We walked out and the damage was just incredible.”
The Townsends own and rent out a duplex, so they are now dealing with the wreckage removal as they handle the financial hardships COVID-19 has created.
“It’s starting to get where the tenants are having some problems paying, and that’s going to be a big problem with all the money we have to put out,” Candy Townsend said.
State Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff spent the afternoon talking to people in her district. Some have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and others have lost their homes because of the tornado.
“These people are stressed out and we need to make sure they are taking care of in a timely manner,” Fetterhoff said. “Unemployment, corona, all these issues that we’ve been dealing with for the past four or five months and now this.”
In all, 28 homes and buildings were damaged by the tornado. Some of the damage was minor, but one home was destroyed.
Neighbors spent much of Wednesday helping each other clean up the debris left by the storm and patching up their homes.
“I feel so bad for the people that are having to deal with this,” DeLand resident Juanita Hosier said.
About 11,000 homes and businesses lost power during the peak of the storm. As of Wednesday afternoon, officials said the power remained out for about 1,000 residents but was expected to be back on shortly.
Certified meteorologist George Waldenberger surveyed the area and captured the damage to the area with a drone. Watch the drone footage below:
SAFETY TIPS: Lightning makes all thunderstorms potential killers
For more damage updates see: Powerful storms damage homes, flood streets and down powerlines, trees in DeLand
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