North Florida communities clean up after massive storm

Small tornado rips through Columbia County, downs trees

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Crews worked Thursday night and into Friday morning in Columbia County to remove tree branches from the road after a small tornado ripped through the area.

Emergency management officials said even cleaning up after a storm can be dangerous. They're just thankful this tornado wasn't bigger.

"I guess the best way to say this is they all have their own personality, a mind of their own type of thing," said Shayne Morgan, director for Columbia County Emergency Management. "Potentially this could have been a lot worse than what this is. We're just very fortunate that no homes were damaged and no (lost) lives or injuries were reported."

One Columbia County family lost its barn and numerous trees were uprooted on the property, but the house was undamaged.

In Palatka, heavy rain caused the roof over a Sonic Drive-In to collapse. And a drive through at the Wells Fargo bank on Dunn Avenue in Jacksonville was also knocked down.

A woman who saw the drive-through awning collapse and called 911 said it was terrifying, like something out of a movie.

"I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' I was taken back and grabbed my phone immediately and called 911," Missy Elian said. "I just watched it kind of come in. It looked like it was falling from underneath and just went down.

"It looked like something pulled it down from the middle, and it just all of a sudden, just came down."

Officials from the bank's corporate office were there Friday, looking at that damage. As of now, they said they don't know the exact cause, but they believe the collapse was weather-related.

Bank officials said the fire marshal was speculating the damage could have been from heavy rains or possibly a light tornado, but they haven't confirmed that.

Total damage costs for the affected areas have not been assessed yet.

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