‘We lost everything in two seconds:’ Tornado topples trees, destroys homes in Orange County

There have been no reported injuries thus far, officials said

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Residents came out in the daylight to survey the damage after the National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado tore through the Conway area Saturday evening.

Jose and Winifer Pico held each other as they stood in what used to be their home at the Lake Margaret Village along Fern Creek Avenue.

"We're a young couple trying to make it and we lost everything in two seconds," Jose Pico said.

RELATED: National Weather Service confirms EF-1 Tornado in Orange County | Videos and photos show storm damage across Central Florida

Jose Pico said on Saturday around 7:30 p.m. they heard what sounded like explosions and saw their patio roof lifting. He said they feared for their lives, so they ran and hid in their bathroom.

“It was scary. It was really, really scared. I thought I was going to die,” Pico said.

He said he only had one thing on his mind at the time.

"Protect my family. Protect them. Save them," he said.

The confirmed EF1 tornado tore through the apartment complex. Several units were damaged. News 6 saw pieces of metal twisted and tree limbs on top of a car.

According to the National Weather Service, the EF-1 tornado covered more than 5 miles with an estimated strength of 105 mph winds. The twister started as a water sport on Lake Conway and moved into Thornton Park, according to the NWS.

The tornado reached peak intensity of EF-1 in the vicinity of Ferncreek Avenue, Lake Margaret Drive and Carmia Drive, according to the NWS.

Through the devastation, there were signs of hope. Neighbors helped one another cleanup and save what belongings they could.

Jose Pico said a statue of Jesus Christ was one of the few items that survived the storm.

"Thank God he was with us yesterday. As you can see my house is completely destroyed, otherwise I wouldn't be here," he said.

MORE: 8 houses damaged after possible tornado hits Orange County

Down the road on South Shine Avenue, Belle Childers said she was in her bedroom when she got the warning on her phone.

"I didn't make it to the closet. It just all hit," Childers said.

She said the tornado sounded like a train. It caused a massive tree to crash into her home where she was just seconds before.

"It would have been bad, but thank God we're all alive and well," she said.

Clean up crews were out Sunday morning removing the large limbs from her home so they could put a tarp on her roof.

Childers said she is thankful no one was hurt.

“God was on our side this time,” she said.


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