Possible tornado tears through Jacksonville neighborhoods
Tropical Storm Colin leaves wake of damage from high winds, heavy rains
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A possible tornado or microburst tore through neighborhoods on Jacksonville's Westside Monday afternoon, and residents continued cleanup efforts Tuesday, WJXT reports.
Gov. Rick Scott will visit first responders and law enforcement officers in Jacksonville on Tuesday to thank them for the preparation efforts. He will be at Fire Station No. 1 on North Liberty Street at 11 a.m.
Nearly two dozen homes were damaged in the Meadow Point and Brookshire neighborhoods. Many residents called their insurance companies, but were told to wait at least 24 hours, to make sure there isn't more damage overnight.
"All of a sudden, I felt the pressure in my ear, like I was on an airplane. And I heard a freight train running through my backyard, looked at the back window and I watched my entire yard just disappear -- one big gust of wind," neighbor Christopher Rodriquenz said.
Residents said they are thankful that no one was seriously injured.
"It started raining really hard and I was looking out my front door and I was looking over here. And I looked at all those trees and the trees were shaking real bad and it was, just really, wind and stuff was going around in a circle in the air," neighbor Reid Parrish said.
For the remainder of Monday evening, neighbors cleaned up, taking a chainsaw to fallen tree limbs and even fixing up rooftops of neighbors who weren't at home.
Residents in Crystal Springs also believe a possible tornado hit off Blair Road.
Todd Hickox said he was aware the storm was coming, but he didn't know how close to home it would hit until Monday afternoon, when he got a few text messages from his friends asking him to come back home.
Hickox said he found multiple trees split in half and dozens of small branches scattered across the playground where his daughter plays.
"If we would have been home, it looks like the Lord would have taken care of us. It didn't go through the house, so that's good," Hickox said.
Emergency rescue crews were called to move trees, which had fallen on power lines.
Severe weather sweeps through Duval County
Tornado warnings were issued for western and north Duval County about 3:20 p.m. Monday.
Heavy rain caused flooding on I-95 at the Emerson Street exit.
Two right lanes on I-95 southbound, south of Atlantic Boulevard before the San Diego overpass, were closed for drainage work, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Storm damage was reported across the area.
Winds downed trees, including one on I-10 east of Chaffee Road, as well as in the Crystal Springs area on Jacksonville's Westside. Severe storms also took down signs at I-295 and 103rd Street.
It appears that winds flipped a semitruck in a warehouse parking lot.
Severe storms also hit Paradise Village Mobile Home Park on Wood Dove Way, knocking down trees and destroying a fence.
The Little Blessings Daycare Center at 1822 West 30th Street in Northwest Jacksonville will be closed Tuesday, due to damages resulting from a tree that fell on the building Monday. There were children and staff in the day care center at the time, but no one was hurt.
Preparing for tropical storm
As Jacksonville braced for the potential impact of Tropical Storm Colin, citizens were reminded to prepare and plan ahead.
Mayor Lenny Curry announced Monday that he was sending nonessential city employees home at 3 p.m. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday in 34 Florida counties, including Duval County.
"That simply gives us access to resources should we need them in the event of impact and ramifications of the tropical storm," Curry explained. "As to what we can expect in the next 12 to 15 hours, expect the unexpected."
Many residents Monday were concerned that bridges in Jacksonville might be closed because of high winds from Colin. The bridges are typically closed when sustained storm winds reach about 40 mph.
Curry said the bridges were being monitored, and he encouraged drivers, particularly those in large vehicles, to avoid bridges if possible.
The bridges never needed to be closed.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority Skyway service was suspended about 4 p.m. Monday because of deteriorating weather conditions.
Jacksonville residents who had storm drains in front of their homes were encouraged to clear debris from them to help prevent flooding in the streets.
Curry joined Duval County Emergency Management Director Steve Woodard, National Weather Service Jacksonville meteorologist in charge Scott Cordero, and other city leaders to announce the release of the 2016 Emergency Preparedness Guide at a news conference last week.
The guide, which includes tools, tips and resources for residents and businesses to prepare for hurricane season is available online at JaxReady.com. It can also be obtained at city offices, local Lowe's Home Improvement stores, Walgreens and other locations.
Curry urged citizens to know their evacuation zones, establish a plan and compile survival kits in advance.
Duval County after-school activities canceled
Because of concerns for severe weather associated with Tropical Storm Colin, Duval County Public Schools canceled all after-school activities for Monday.
Normal school dismissal times, paid after-school care, Team-Up programs, and graduation ceremonies remained scheduled as planned.
The district does not anticipate any school closures or impact on school activities and graduation ceremonies on Tuesday.
Updates will be provided to parents and families as needed via automated calls and social media.
JU cancels evening classes
President Tim Cost and the Jacksonville University Emergency Preparedness Team made the decision to cancel all classes and release all nonessential staff by 3 p.m. Monday.
The university opened for classes and business as usual at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
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