Video: Storm wreaks havoc

updated 9/21/2007 10:05:40 AM ET 2007-09-21T14:05:40

Severe weather, including a possible tornado, damaged about 50 homes, shearing the entire second story off one home, authorities said Friday.

One person suffered a minor cut in Eustis, and no other injuries were reported in the area about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, Lake County sheriff’s Sgt. John Herrell said. Crews went door to door to make sure everyone was safe after the storm.

“It’s amazing — we’re completely blessed,” said Brett MacLaughlin, who safely rode out the storm with his mother and stepfather in a bathroom as tree limbs crashed through windows outside. “The entire neighborhood is very blessed.”

Radar indicated a tornado touched down late Thursday from a storm system that crossed through the state before spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters said.

The system developed into a subtropical depression hours later, with tropical storm warnings posted from Apalachicola in Florida’s Panhandle westward to the mouth of the Mississippi River, including New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said. Rain and wind from the system were still over parts of Florida.

Homes uninhabitable
Herrell said 20 houses were uninhabitable and about 30 other homes have broken windows, debris from fallen tree branches and roof damage. He said the second story was shorn off one house, but the residents escaped unharmed.

Television news footage showed a boat overturned in a yard, a toppled mobile home and downed trees. About 300 people were without electricity, but power was expected to be restored by sundown, officials said.

MacLaughlin said he, his mother and stepfather were sitting on their back porch, watching the thunderstorm, when they noticed odd cloud formations and an eerie quiet.

“That’s when we started to hear the freight train that everybody talks about,” said MacLaughlin, 20. “It just got louder. The wind picked up immensely within seconds.”

The trio ran into the bathroom, where water began pouring out of the toilet as the apparent tornado passed. After the two-minute ordeal, MacLaughlin said he walked out of the bathroom to see a jumble of glass and leaves in the home. A 1950s era barn behind the home was demolished, he said.

The late-night storm caused much less damage than the deadly tornadoes that hit the same area in the dark, early morning hours of Feb. 2, killing 21 people and destroying hundreds of homes in Lake, Sumter and Volusia counties.

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