Falling tree traps families in Gainesville apartment

Sunday afternoon storms also cause damage in Clay, Nassau counties

By Heather Leigh - Reporter
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Severe thunderstorms that plowed through northeast Florida on Sunday afternoon knocked down trees, damaged buildings, cars and trapped two families inside their Gainesville apartments.

A huge tree crashed into apartments in building 700 of The Reserve at Kanapaha apartments in southwest Gainesville. A mother and her daughter were trapped on the second floor and a family of seven on the ground floor.

The tree fell around those inside and the child on the second floor was transported for minor injuries.

"We were able to excavate them within a matter of 10 minutes. We got them en route to the hospital as a precaution to make sure there are no extensive injuries," said Gainesville Fire Rescue District Chief Michael Cowart.

Brent Cunningham and his girlfriend watched the destruction from their window.

"I thought something had fell on the building and I looked out the window and there was a large tree down in the front and, obviously, it fell down on her mother's car," said Cunningham.

Although the cause of this damage hasn't been confirmed, officials say it looks like a tornado ripped through the area.

"That's what it looks like, especially for the size of the tree, it would have to be something pretty powerful, like a tornado," said District Chief Cowart.

The mother and daughter on the second floor will be staying with family members but the family of seven has been provided with a place to stay by the Red Cross until they can move back into their home.

Trees down cause power outages

Clay Electric Cooperative said trees down in Alachua, Marion and Putnam counties  pulled down power lines across its service area. 

The biggest outages were the result of a tree falling across a 115,000-volt transmission line that serves the co-op's Salt Springs substation.

Falling tree damages home in Callahan

Strong winds took down two massive oak trees on Wes Jones' property Lem Turner Road in Callahan -- one on his house causing an estimated $30,000 damage.

Jones said he was on his patio just feet away from where the tree smashed into the corner of the house.

His wife, Lesley Jones, said they were in the process of removing some of the trees.

"It's nice that we got another big tree down, but it's not exactly how you want it to come down. The biggest thing is to getting this tree off the house and getting it covered, so if we get more rain tonight it doesn't pour into the house, and then get the repairs done and that's all we can do," said Jones.

They said that it could even be more after they get into their barns and find out what damage was done there.

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