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'We are so lucky:’ Cleanup continues after EF-1 tornado rips through Orange County

National Weather Service says EF-1 tornado brought up 105-mph winds

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The cleanup continues in Orange County just south of downtown Orlando after the National Weather Service said an EF-1 tornado that brought speeds of up to 105 mph winds destroyed neighborhoods Saturday night.

“We are so lucky,” Gary Dillard said while trimming a broken tree branch on Monday. “Those people lost their roof and we got lucky, just 75 feet away.”

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

Across the street, Terry Young had a stroller full of stuff brought out of her home. Her neighbor lost his roof Saturday night. Young had goosebumps describing what it was like when the tornado came through around 7:30 pm.

“It was terrifying. Oh, my God,” Young said. “I will live through 100 hurricanes before I ever want to be in a tornado again.”

The National Weather Service surveyed the damage Sunday, confirming the EF-1 tornado had wind speeds of 100-105 mph and had a 5.1-mile path of destruction after starting as a water spout on Lake Conway then working its way through neighborhoods to Thorton Park.

According to the Orange County Property Appraiser’s latest update on Monday morning, they estimated nearly $1 million dollars in damages.

[MORE: Tornadoes caused nearly $1 million in damages, according to Orange County property appraiser]

"Preliminary assessments of some 42 sites in the vicinity of the intersection of Lake Margaret Drive and Ferncreek Avenue reveal more than $955,000 in damages. Notably, the Lake Margaret Village Apartments sustained an estimated $313,000 in damages to its 10 buildings," a news release said.

According to Red Cross officials, the organization has received 33 cases with 67 people in need of assistance, and counting.

On Monday, Red Cross volunteers were seen at the house of Fred Hill. He and his wife hid in the hallway as a tree crashed into his home, the winds then ripping off the rest of the roof.

“That was the craziest thing I’ve been through. I have been through a lot of hurricanes but nothing like that,” Hill said.

Unfortunately, Hill was uninsured.

Two companies owned by people who live in the neighborhood have since come together to help. Mora’s Landscaping cut the tree in his home for free as Time Machine Contracting and Restoration put a tarp on the roof. Together, the companies are hoping to raise money to help the family who has now lost everything.

In the meantime, Orange County Fire Rescue said this is a good reminder for residents to be storm ready as we are now in hurricane season and encouraged residents to have a weather radio and shelter plan in place.

Visit ClickOrlando.com/hurricane for everything you need to prepare for a storm.


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