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Arlington residents clean up after severe storms down trees, fences

Damage reported throughout Forest Hills subdivision off Townsend Boulevard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many Arlington residents spent Friday cleaning up debris and repairing damage after Thursday's severe storms downed trees and fences. 

Some homeowners even saw roof damage after the heavy wind, rain and hail moved through the northeast Florida area. 

Multiple neighborhoods off Townsend Boulevard in Arlington were hit hard by the storms. The next day, cranes and crews could be seen cleaning up throughout the area, including on White Birch Drive.

Terry Smith and many other told News4Jax on Friday that they hadn't seen damage like this in years. 

"There was a lot of rain in the beginning, then the wind started swirling really loud, and before you know it, I could hear my neighbor's whole back of his fence just explode and mine let loose," Smith said. "You just pray and watch it happen."

Smith said he asked someone to come out Friday and give him an estimate on repairing his damaged fence. 

"Hopefully, I cant get a good quote so I can pass it onto my neighbors so they can get their stuff repaired," he said.

Though he's left cleaning up, Smith said, he's also thankful. 

"I've been here about 10 years and this is the worst I've seen this neighborhood," Smith said. "I just keep living -- everything's OK (and the) main thing is no one got hurt. That's the most important."

PHOTOS: Severe storms roll through area, cause damage

Several residents in the Forest Hills neighborhood told News4Jax that Thursday's severe weather was worse than Hurricane Matthew.

"I was driving up this way on University (Boulevard) and I got a call from my neighbor here and he said it looks like a war zone," resident Josh Avery said. "This is the worst that we have seen, and that includes the hurricane that we just went through. Our street didn't get that bad during the hurricane. My poor neighbor behind us here, she's got a huge tree right through her house."

As residents began picking up debris and cleaning up, they also began calling their insurance companies.

"(That) tree in front of the house literally landed on top of my car. But luckily, it's just small branches," said Hasan Edwards, who's lived in the neighborhood for three years.

Though the worst of the storms blew through in a matter of minutes, they left a path of damage in nearly a dozen backyards along Net Court in Forest Hills. 

Edwards said his three children told him to look outside as the storms rolled in.

"They were just like, 'The trampoline's moving!' And I'm like, 'What are you all talking about?' And I came out to be like 'relax' or 'calm down' and it just came," Edwards said.

The winds were so strong that trees were pulled from the ground, porch screens and roofs were ripped up, and fences were blown into pieces. There was even a stop sign bent all the way over, next to an uprooted tree.

"It started raining and all this wind just started swirling around, and a lot of debris was just going to the backyard. We could see through the windows, just bending the trees and everything. The fence was waving back and forth and then it just quit," homeowner Tony Grider said. 

Grider, who has lived in the area for six years, said it will be a community effort to pick up the pieces.

"Whether you like the guy or not, you're going to see if he's OK," Grider said of the neighbors. 

In one subdivision over, three generations were shocked at the damage in their backyard. 

"(I'm) just thank(ing) God because it could've been worse. That's my main thing because that was just a couple of feet away from going in my mother's room," said Cedric Norman, who arrived at the home as the storm hit.

The wind was so strong that is blew a tree through their fence and scattered debris all over the yard. 

"I was sitting in the living room and it just started, and got really loud," said Alicia Reynolds, who was inside her grandmother's house at the time. "The thunder, lightning, the hail hitting the windows -- I thought the windows were going to break."

Though they will be moving soon and said the damage was the last thing they needed, they're happy it wasn't worse.

"I'm alive. We're still OK," Reynolds said. "No one is terribly hurt. All this can be repaired. All the stuff can be replaced."

Also in Arlington, a tree fell down on a fence along Parker School Road. Nearby, there was also a downed tree on an SUV.

On Baymeadows Way, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said two people were taken to a hospital about 5 p.m. Thursday to be checked for effects from a possible lightning strike. 

JEA reported power outages throughout Jacksonville, mainly in the Arlington area and on the city's Southside. At the peak of the outages, more than 14,000 customers were without power. 

The Weather Authority said areawide rainfall totals were between a quarter inch and a half  inch.