Lake City residents clean up storm damage

Published On: Mar 25 2013 04:43:56 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 23 2013 11:10:00 PM EDT
LAKE CITY, Fla. -

Many Lake City residents are still cleaning up from Saturday's destructive weather.

Emergency officials said Monday all but two roads in Lake City are now back open, and the power is now back on for those who lost it. But a local state of emergency is still in effect.

Some families still have quite a bit of work to do. That's especially evident at Integrity Car Sales.

Somewhere beneath the piles of fallen tree branches stands the company's office and at least five destroyed cars under the rubble.

The sight is very surreal for Kornel Nika, who owns the dealership. He said he was inside the office when the storm hit.

"I start to scare when the smoke came out," Nika said. "But I went in the bathroom and thanks to the Fire Department, they got me safely out."

Columbia County Emergency Management officials said at least 300 tree branches fell, and at least six families were displaced from their homes.

Penny Layton came extremely close to being among those residents affected. Her front porch was destroyed after a tree from across the street fell onto it.

She said until she hears from her insurance agency, the real cleanup has to wait.

"They've left themselves a window of 48 hours. Somebody will be out within 48 hours, which doesn't look very timely to me," Layton said.

She said that when the storm hit, a power line fell onto her property and onto her car, which was parked in her driveway. Layton said thankfully the power line was moved before it posed a real threat.

The National Weather Service said despite the significant damage, it doesn't believe a tornado was the cause. Either way, it's a blessing no one was seriously injured in the storm, residents said.

Nika knows how close he could have been to getting hurt. He said he's especially thankful to be alive.

"Money we can make. Life we don't," he said.

Emergency workers do not yet have a dollar estimate for the damage. Public Works still has crews out on the streets working and assisting residents where needed.