‘It’s like a war zone:’ DeLand businesses reeling from tornado damage

Owners plan to spend thousands making repairs

National Weather Service survey teams have confirmed the damage in DeLand Tuesday was that of an EF-2 tornado.

DeLAND, Fla. – Several stores along Woodland Boulevard are cleaning up from the tornado that struck Tuesday afternoon. The owners told News 6 the damage is extensive and expensive.

Robert Ripley waited out the EF-2 tornado huddled inside his office with employees and a customer at Import Auto Service.

“I walked out of the office and I said, ‘When did we put a skylight in and why is it raining inside the building?‘”

Ripley said the strong winds blew off his bay doors and ripped off the roof. There were pieces of insulation from the roof that stuck to cars and damaged homes and water now floods his work garage.

Here's video of inside a car repair shop. Owner told me he was inside the office when the possible tornado hit. We'll have his story starting at 4pm.

Posted by Loren Korn News 6 on Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It’s a mess that Ripley said will cost tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and will take about two months to rebuild. But, he said they lucked out because the storm did not destroy cars or injure anyone at the shop.

“We’re OK and hopefully once we get back up and running, that they’ll keep on coming in,” Ripley said.

[RELATED: EF-2 tornado packed 105-115 mph winds in DeLand | Video: EF-2 tornado causes ‘significant damage’ in DeLand]

Vimal Talati co-owns the DeLand Max gas station that is just a few doors down from Ripley.

“It’s like a war zone. We saw the canopies damaged, we saw the gas pumps, we saw the ice machine went back there. It’s quite a bit of damage,” Talati said.

He believes they’ll be spending a couple hundred thousand dollars in repairs and is one of the many store owners who are waiting for power to be restored.

“We’re trying to recover everything, trying to clean up everything,” Talati said.

Work crews spent Wednesday cutting down trees, surveying the damage and fixing power lines. Officials confirmed the tornado ripped through about 4.6 miles of town with wind gusts up to 105 to 115 mph.

“We’ve seen lights go, we’ve seen power lines down but nothing major like this,” Talati said.

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.