Residents clean up in wake of violent storms

Storm brought winds up to 50 mph


ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Roofs blown away, trees pulled from the ground and damaged power lines were just some of the casualties residents faced after a storm blew through Clay County, bringing heavy winds and rain Tuesday afternoon.

Residents are trying to figure out where to begin cleaning up and early estimates on how much that cleanup may cost say it could be in the thousands of dollars.

The storms brought winds up to 50 mph, and much of the damage took place in Clay County off College Drive.

Jason Gauer witnessed the storms firsthand and said he's still in shock.

"It was a deafening sound. Glass, explosion," Gauer said. "The trees in that yard over there are down, and the branches in that tree you can see are gone. There used to be a top on that, it's gone. I don't know where it's at."

Gauer said it all happened in less than 30 seconds, but it was long enough to make his uncle's property unrecognizable.

"We were sitting in the truck, the kids were in the back and my friend was driving. All you could hear was just the rain hitting the roof of the truck and out of nowhere this piece of plywood come through the driver window at us," Gauer said.

Fortunately his family wasn't hurt, but the wood shattered the windows of his truck. Gauer's truck wasn't the only car damaged when a tree was ripped from its roots and shattered the back window of another vehicle.

"We're probably talking between the damages and everything, I'm going to say about $20,000 (in damages)," Gauer said.

Nicky Zelek has lived in the area for more than 50 years and said it's the first time she's seen anything like this either.

"Really didn't expect all this. I just thought maybe a piece of tin blew off or just blew a sign down or something like that, I didn't expect this, no," Zelek said. "We had a tornado here or hurricane in ‘64 when we first moved here. Never anything else, I've never seen anything else."

Zelek said her mother is planning on selling the property she has in the area. She doesn't believe the storm damage will impact the sale, but she does think it might take some time to put everything back together again.

"I figure probably a few weeks, because we have to get the tree chopped down. I don't know how we are going to get this tree out of her...," Zelek said.