Cleanup ensues after storm wreaks havoc

Structural damage, trees downed, windows blown out by high winds

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several crews and neighbors are continuing to clean up a mess left over after a strong arctic cold front pushed through the southeast triggering widespread severe weather.

JEA crews were in full force Tuesday morning, working to repair power lines and restore electricity to homes across Jacksonville. Tens of thousands of residents were out of power at some point during the severe weather that hit the area Monday.

A 4,000-square-foot metal roof blew off a small apartment building at 127 1st Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach.

Renters at the Melrose Place Apartments told News4Jax reporter Adrienne Moore that the roof peeled back like an onion and they heard several thunderous booms as it came crashing down. 

"It sounded like the rain started hitting really bad, and I came outside the apartment a few minutes later and there was massive pieces of white roofing all over the complex parking lot and the pool area," said Christopher Peer.


The complex has 13 units but only a handful of tenants were home when the roof ripped off. Bulldozers were on scene attempting to clear debris Monday and repairs and clean-up will continue Tuesday.

The Jacksonville Beach Fire and Rescue Department also responded to the scene, and the electric company shut the power off because of the amount of water pouring into the units.

"I went in the bedroom and got in the middle of the bed because it was loud and the wind was blowing in and it got real dark and I heard things hitting the building," said Terrie Bradshaw.

The building's owner, Mike Cordray, estimated the damage at more than $40,000. He was making sure every tenant was relocated and put up in a nearby hotel Monday night.

"This is catastrophic. The roof is gone from front to back. A lot of the roof is in the pool, in the parking lot on cars, and the rest of it is in the alley behind the building," Cordray said. "I'm blessed that no one got hurt. I mean, that's the most important thing. All this is just property. We'll fix this and get down the road. And we'll get a newer, better roof."

Many of the residents, who jokingly dubbed themselves the "Melrose Place Refugees," moved into the Four Points Sheraton in Jacksonville Beach until the damage could be repaired. Cordray was given special rates by the hotel to be able to put up the residents for the night.

Cordray said he'll do everything to get people back in their homes as soon as possible. He said he'll likely opt for low-slope roll roof instead of a metal roof.

Thousands in Jacksonville remained without power late Monday night, including nearly 2,500 in the Arlington area.

In East Arlington, wind gusts were so strong they tore off the awning over the gas pumps at the BP station at St. Johns Bluff and Monument Road. 

Window blown out on at Bento Cafe at Tinseltown.
Window blown out on at Bento Cafe at Tinseltown.

"Thank God there were no cars here and no people hurt," said Susan Whitehead, a frequent customer at the BP. "This is just, I can't believe that it's this much damage."

Two cars were at the pumps when the awning came off. Linda Steele's car was scratched by the debris.

"I came to the front door and then the next thing you know you heard this big rush," Steele said.

Workers will begin clean-up at the gas station on Tuesday.

Nearby a tree knocked down power lines in the Holly Oaks subdivision and blocked the entrance to the neighborhood, which includes about 25 homes.

"I was driving down the road and all of a sudden a tree just fell right in front of me and the wires that were coming from the telephone pole fell down and sparks went everyone," Randy Adams said. "I hit the tree, backed up, and said, 'I got to get out of here.'"

JEA said the tree should be removed and power should be restored sometime Tuesday, but neighbors said they were skeptical of that timeline.

"It was really scary because it could have hit a house," said one neighbor.

Nearby, another neighborhood wasn't so lucky, as a home along the river in Arlington had a tree smash through it, splitting the second floor level.

And on the Westside, a tree sliced through a mobile home on 103rd Street with a woman and two young children inside.

"They were both sleeping and I didn't want to move them. One's 17 months old; the other is 3 months, and I didn't know it was going to be that bad," said Lori Clements. "The next thing I know, that (tree) came down and all that dust and smoke and blah was all in my face."

Clements and the children have been moved to another mobile home and repairs have begun on the tree-damaged trailer.

Two tractor-trailers on the Dames Point Bridge appeared to have blown over, blocking two northbound lanes for about 90 minutes Monday. The Florida Highway Patrol said the driver of one of the trucks was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Those were the only injuries reported from storm damage Monday.

Downtown, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department was working to remove a broken window pane on the 20th floor of the Wells Fargo building.

On the Southside, high winds apparently blew out the windows at Bento Cafe in the Tinseltown area off Deer Lake Court.

In Baker County, the Sheriff's Office reported damage to multiple properties, including an overturned carport that flipped over a church and onto a power line, a partially destroyed barn, a roof blown off a shed and a tree on a residence. There were also at least seven downed trees reported in the area with three hitting power lines, according to the BCSO.

Nassau County Emergency Management Director Billy Estep said some trees and a power line were downed in the Nassauville area, but there were no reports of structural damage. Columbia County Emergency Management Director Shayne Morgan had similar reports of downed trees but no structural damage. 

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