Mayport, Fernandina Beach tornadoes rated EF1

Clean up continues day after tropic storm-spawned twisters

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - Residents of Fernandina Beach are still cleaning up after a tornado with 100 mph winds spawned by Tropical Storm Andrea late Thursday afternoon.

The National Weather Service surveyed both the Mayport and Fernandina Beach sites damaged during the tropical storm.

NWS meteorologists say the first twister started as water spout with winds up to 90 mph that came off the water just before 5 p.m., damaging structures near the Naval Station's beachfront recreational complex and the CPO Club. 

IMAGES: Thursday twisters | Friday clean-up

That storm was on the ground for the equivalent of three or four city blocks and was rated at EF1.

Several minutes later, a second touchdown on Fletcher Avenue in Fernandina Beach was estimated to be up to 200 yards wide and stayed on the ground for five or six blocks.

No one was injured in either touchdown and no homes were destroyed, but there was significant damage.  Daylight Friday revealed revealed twisted and snapped oak trees, roofs ripped open and limbs down across the area. 

Blue tarps cover many roofs in the neighborhood.

"The damage it did, it's incredible that it only took less than a minute," said Fernandina Beach resident Rod McKin.

"It was so quick," said Eunice Layton, whose roof was damaged by the twister. "My son pushed toward a bathroom, and by that time, it was gone! I just heard the limbs and trees falling."

Friday, the sounds of the tornado and things crashing around them were replaced by chain saws. 

Most people in the area say they have insurance, and they are waiting for adjusters.  Insurance agents say homeowner policies will pay for damage to the structure, but not to remove trees or limbs downed by the storm.

"If a tree falls on the building or your home, your home is covered and there's minimal amount of coverage for tree removal," said agent Claudia Willette. "A lot of people think there's a lot, but there's just a very little amount."

James Gandy, of Lil James Tree Service, was out helping remove downed trees.  He recommends not waiting until the storm hits to use his service.

"About every two or three years, go through and selectively take out branches to clear out the dead, to allow the air to pass through them when we get these heavy winds," Gandy said.

Willette says most of the claims her office has seen since Andrea have come from policyholders with roof damage and shingles missing.  Because many properties in the beach community are vacation homes, many owners may not be aware of the damage yet, so claims may come in for several more days, even weeks.

Florida emergency officials say as many a eight tornadoes touched down in the state Thursday as the season's first Atlantic storm moved from the Big Bend northeast, crossing into Georgia just west of Duval County.

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