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Tornado damages Fleming Island homes

Branches, trees, power lines down across area as storm moves through

JACKSONVILLE – Residents of a Clay County subdivision are cleaning up after what the National Weather Service confirmed as a small tornado passed through early Monday morning.

The NWS appeared to be a twister that began as a water spout over the St. Johns River, then became an EF1 tornado as it moved inland through about one-half mile of a Fleming Island neighborhood named Harvest Bend. Weather investigators said the storm, with about 80 mph winds, was about one-quarter mile wide.

The storm dislocated a chimney, ripped siding off homes and blew down fences and trees. Damage to one home make it unlivable.

"We can't stay here," resident Scott Kerr said. "We have to find someplace else to stay."

No one was injured during the storm, but dozens of people are dealing with property damage.

"A couple of big branches (are) laying on top of my car, shattered the windshield, and I've got some really nice pieces on top of my car," said David Faehnrich.

The Red Cross sent a crew to the neighborhood to provide assistance.

While that neighborhood had the most concentrated damage, there were trees, branches and power lines down across northeast Florida as a storm front blew through. A wind gust of 54 mph was clocked at a JEA substation in Arlington at 6:30 a.m.

"It wasn't necessarily that scary, but it was windy," homeowner Fred Burnett said. "It sure was windy."

All of Northeast Florida was under a tornado watch until 9:45 a.m., and the threat remained in Southeast Georgia through 1 p.m.

A large tree went through the roof of a Beauclerc home and there several reports of trees or large limbs blocking residential streets and falling on cars.

Residents in areas that often flood during heavy downpours and extremely high tides were coping with rising water Monday morning, but most subsided by mid-morning.