Storm damage leaves 5 Ocala families displaced

Officials: 20 storm-related emergency calls made in less than 3 hours

OCALA, Fla. – Five families were displaced from three separate homes Thursday night after thunderstorms damaged the homes, Ocala Fire Rescue officials said Friday.

Fire Rescue personnel said a thunderstorm and strong winds swept through the city, causing power lines to go down and trees to fall.

Officials said Ocala Fire Rescue received more than 20 storm-related emergency calls in less than three hours. Three of the callers were members of families who were left displaced after trees fell and damaged their homes, the Fire Rescue said.

A large tree fell on top of two mobile homes along Northwest Blitchton Road around 7:35 p.m., officials said. Each home consisted of two units and one of them was vacant, leaving three families displaced because of the damage, according to Fire Rescue.

"I looked over and I could see the tree swaying," neighbor Crystal Colomb said.

Colomb said she was sitting outside when the wind started to pick up on Blitchton Road.

"All of a sudden, it went flopping down and I went, 'Vinny, that tree went falling through the house. Call 911, call 911,'" Colomb said.

Trees came crashing down on several homes in Ocala as a result of the strong overnight storm.

"The woman came running out because it must have shaken her trailer," neighbor Vinny Grecco said.

Ocala Fire Rescue snapped a picture of the tree, the base smashing right through the roof of a home. A woman and two dogs were trapped inside.

"She was in the living room when the tree fell on the other side. She couldn't get out. She was stuck," Lyn Summers said. "She was shaking so hard. All I could think is get out."

The area is now taped off with a notice left on the door deeming the house unsafe, displacing several families.

There was a similar scene on Northeast 12th Avenue. An even larger tree came crashing down between two homes, causing the bulk of damage.

Around 8:15 p.m., a tree fell over two homes on Northwest 24th Avenue, officials said. The east-most unit had most of the damage and at least one family was displaced, Fire Rescue personnel said.

Calls continued after the storm passed, Fire Rescue officials said, and just after 9:20 p.m., another tree fell onto the roof of a home on Northwest 24th Avenue. The tree caused moderate damage and left one family displaced, Ocala Fire Rescue said.

No one was injured during the incidents, the Fire Rescue said.

Ocala Fire Rescue personnel reminded the public to seek shelter in a safe building and avoid trees when a thunderstorm watch has been issued.

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