70ºF

Possible tornado tore Lake County home 20 feet off its foundation

'You'll be amazed anybody came out of that house alive'

ORLANDO, Fla. – A possible tornado touched down Thursday morning in Lake County, nearly taking a church pastor's home with it, according to Lake County Fire Rescue officials.

Lake County Fire Chief Jim Dickerson said the possible tornado ripped the home 20 feet from its foundation with Tuscanooga Baptist Church pastor James Madison and his wife inside. Both were able to escape unharmed.

"You’ll be amazed anybody came out of that house alive,” Dickerson said.

Madison said he and his wife were asleep when their entire house was picked up by heavy winds. He said his wife woke him up after hearing the devastation. 

"She went to hollering, 'Get up, get up, get up, and by that time the roof went off. Boom,'" Madison said. 

Neighbors and friends of Madison were at the home still Thursday afternoon trying to salvage what they could.

Demetria Bowles was among the helpers carrying mattresses out of the home. She said it's times like this one where helping people matters most.

"It feels good because I would want that same thing if the shoe was on the other foot," Bowles said. "I would really appreciate that."

Fire officials began receiving calls about the possible tornado around 6 a.m. The storm impacted a small area off of Tuscanooga Road, including Honeycut Road and Painted Horse Lane.

[PHOTOS:  Storms cause damage in Lake County]

"Be advised that there was a report of a tornado that touched down in the area of Tuscanooga Road and Honeycut Road in Mascotte," the Lake County Sheriff's Office tweeted. "There are power lines and trees down in the road. Please avoid this area and choose an alternate route."

Other than the destroyed home, four more buildings sustained significant damage, including the Tuscanooga Baptist Church itself. Eight buildings in total were damaged.

Dickerson said no injuries have been reported. Officials from Lake County Emergency Services are on the scene, cleaning up downed power lines and debris left on roads, homes and in trees. He said they plan to reopen the area by noon or 1 p.m.

Though Lake County Emergency Services officials believe the damage is in line with that from a tornado, a tornado has not yet been confirmed by the National Weather Service.

County emergency officials tweeted later Thursday that the NWS in Melbourne will survey the area to determine whether a tornado actually touched down in Lake County.

Meanwhile, part of a roof of a Sanford business was torn off in one of a line of severe storms that moved through Central Florida. The damage took place on Church Street, southwest of the Central Florida Zoo.

A cold front moving in from the Gulf of Mexico is bringing rain and the potential for severe weather to the region.

Tornado warnings were issued for Brevard and Flagler counties earlier in the morning, but there have been no immediate reports of damage.

News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells said residents need to be alert.

"We have a cold front coming in from the west, out of the Gulf, meaning wild weather can occur," Sorrells said.

Orlando will see a high near 70 on Thursday. The average high is 71 for this time of year.

The overnight low into Friday morning will drop into the low 40s.

Friday's high will be in the upper 50s.

[WEATHER: Extended forecast | Radar | Warnings | Pinpoint Weather Zones][DOWNLOAD: Pinpoint, Hurricane apps | SHARE: Weather pictures]

Weekend highs will be in the low 60s.

"There's a slight chance of rain Sunday for the Pro Bowl in Orlando," Sorrells said.

Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for weather updates.


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