JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Storms that moved through Northeast Florida on Friday afternoon packed a punch, dropping hail and sending firefighters to a Southside home struck by lightning.
The strike left a gaping nine-foot hole in the ceiling of the house on Coachman Lakes Drive off Alden Road. Sheetrock from inside the home could be seen in a pile outside the home.
Amy Vu, the homeowner’s mother-in-law, told News4Jax there was visible damage inside the house.
"I saw inside the middle of the house, there’s a big hole. I can see through the sky. (There's) one big hole with two big holes," Vu said. "When I look up through the ceiling, I can see the sky. I see outside."
The lightning strike also damaged part of a door, taking the paint off and leaving a gash.
Fortunately, no one was at the home at the time.
"Nobody at home," Vu said. "No pets."
Ricky Lam also lives on Coachman Lakes Drive.
"I was very scared," he said. "I was in my room, watching my phone and then all of a sudden, I heard a 'bam.' There was shaking and I didn’t know what was going on."
What he heard was lightning striking the home just a few doors down.
"We went outside and saw firetrucks and then we came over here to see what happened," Lam said.
The power to the home was shut off. Vu said flames were never visible, but neighbors said they called 911 when they saw smoke coming from the roof. A roofing company also came out and crews were putting a tarp over the hole in the roof as a temporary fix.
Hail was also spotted in the Jacksonville area, including in Mandarin, as the storms moved through.
"We were sitting there at work and out of nowhere the rain came, immediately followed by hail the size of golf balls, wind. As you can see, some destruction," said Alan Hall, chief executive officer of San Jose Academy and Preparatory High School. "The whole thing lasted maybe 20 minutes. It was that fast, that hard, that concentrated. Then it was gone."
Hall, who lived in the Midwest for six to seven years, said he told his staff that it reminded him of a tornado.
"The way the wind and those trees were moving, it looked characteristically like a tornado, but we never saw a twister," he said. "Needless to say, now we're cleaning up afterward."
Hall said a tree also fell on a vehicle, damaging the car and blocking part of Sunbeam Road near San Jose Boulevard.
"Although the trees are picturesque, sometimes this is the negative side of what happens when you're in a wooded environment like this," he said. "If you want to say karma, we were just rated an A school for the first time in existence, so this is the price we have to pay now."