Hey there. Well, by now, our tornado woes are known by all. It appears they have become the national headline since Friday. I thought I would drop a quick note here, and post a couple of pictures.
Tornadoes are different from hurricanes in that the prep time is far less. Around 10-11 o'clock, Volusia county still was not even in the warning zone. I was doing my show at Finnegans to a packed house, despite the constant rain. There was some tornado talk, but we did not feel we were in peril. At closing time, I asked the manager to turn on the weather channel, just to see if there was anything to worry about.
The rain never let up all night. I was wondering how the heck I was going to get my gear into the van. As luck would have it, once I got everything to the dance floor and propped the door open, the rain stopped! I loaded my van without so much as a drop of rain, closed the door and the rain continued!
I got a good early start home and was focusing to get home by 3:00. Got home at 3:08, without a worry! Fell asleep around 20 after and woke back up at 3:45 with Samantha freaking out about the weather. The hail then bombarded the house with a low roar, so I turned on the weather channel to see the most hellacious storm coming right over us. The storm itself was moving 57-65 mph, so I knew even if it was horrible, it would not be a long term event. The TV reports were saying that the roads that I had just taken home minutes before were now closed because of flooding. The electricity went out, leaving us on our own for a bit, then came back on after the worst had passed.
The storm cut a swatch across central FL leaving a wake of devastation in the communities from Lady Lake to New Smyrna. Lady Lake got the worst of it, then Paisley, then DeLand, then NSB.
Once we saw it go to the coast we were able to relax a bit and go back to sleep. Reports were coming in about sporadic damage, but the light of day would prove to show that things were far worse than we ever could have imagined, and let us know just how lucky we were not to be a few miles south.
The TV reports focused mainly on the mobile home parks and the church in Lady Lake, but there was so much more damage than even the TV showed. Full brick and mortar structures were just obliterated. A few 100 year old homes here just ceased to exist, with no evidence they were ever there...just obliterated. Trees were pulled up in clumps and left to rest from their original locations. Trees in the path were snapped in half like matchsticks. It really is an amazing, awesome sight.
The areas of Deland hardest hit were in the area from Hontoon Island, east to Beresford, east to the truck route, east to New Hampshire Ave, and down New Hampshire ave to Kepler. You cannot get onto the residential roads in these areas unless you are authorized. There is law enforcement on every corner checking ID. The truck route and Woodland reopened as soon as the debris and wires could be cleared. I was able to get to the corner of Woodland and New Hampshire to get a couple of snapshots (driving my old Dodge work van to fit in, and not look like a sight seer!)
(EDIT...couldnt make the photos host on here so I will put links...)
This is what is left of the Health Dept. The health dept was located in a shopping center that was once a dept store, but was converted to be government offices. There are still some retail shops, restaurants and a HUGE telemarketing operation there. It is looking like they may have to trash most of the plaza, as a large percentage of it is now structurally unstable. Every light and pole in the parking lot was blown away as well!
This is what is left of a building that housed the sherriffs office, a Dollar General store and a laundromat. It will need to be razed.
This was a building that the owners just spent MONTHS remodeling 100%. It is a Meinecke auto repair center and a transmission shop. They have only been fully open for about a month in their freshly remodeled building. The wind tore up the structure, and the billboard blew over and cut the building in half. I cant see how they can save it. All of the businesses in this area for about a full block took damage of some major regard.
What these pics do not show is all of the residential damage as the storm kept going...this is just one corner where I stopped to grab a couple shots.
Here is a shot toward the Applewood apartments. Most of that is pretty gone...either blown away or tree damage. The air conditioning shop beyond it is pretty much toast.
Here is a random shot of the trees laying next to the road. This is pretty much what it looks like along the path of the storm.
As I said, these dont even scratch the surface of the issues, but it is pretty amazing to see what can happen in 5 minutes with little warning. This all hit a few minutes before 4 and by 4:05 it was all over. Most people were asleep and had no clue.
There but for the grace of a few miles go I. Phew.