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Hail, severe storms sweep through Northeast Florida

Multiple reports of downed trees throughout Jacksonville, Clay County

Widespread damage, including downed trees and power lines, was reported throughout Northeast Florida after severe storms swept through Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said isolated storms began rapidly erupting across the inland areas about 2:30 p.m.

The NWS issued severe thunderstorm warnings for Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Columbia, Putnam, Bradford and Union counties, but they were canceled early Tuesday evening.

Hail also fell in several areas, including the downtown area of Jacksonville, Tuesday afternoon. 

Now Jacksonville and Clay County residents will begin cleaning the storm damage.

PHOTOS: Tuesday thunderstorm drops hail, brings down branches, trees

Downed trees, power lines in Clay County

The Clay County Division of Emergency Management said five sheds were destroyed, eight trees fell across roadways and 16 homes had trees fall on them. Two of the 16 homes sustained structural damage.

No injuries were reported.

Clay County Public Works Department crews made their way through Fleming Island, beginning Tuesday night, cleaning up the mess.

"We're ready to go," said Mike Todd, deputy director of Clay County Public Works. "Our main objective is to clear the roadways and clear up a right-of-way."

One backyard in Fleming Island had several downed trees, which all fell away from the homes. But several trees crashed through fences and onto the roads.

"Fences can be replaced. The yard can be fixed up. In time, all our trees will grow. But if people get hurt, that's a completely different story. So we are lucky," Fleming Island resident Ken Ray said.

A tree fell on the roof of Tommy Spratley's Fleming Island home. A limb from the massive oak tree pierced a hole into the ceiling of a bathroom.

"(There was) a lot of wind. It almost felt like a hurricane," Spratley said. "It could have taken down a house, easy."

Gloria Love said she had an eventful night.

"It was very quick, and it was very violent. All of a sudden," Love said. "I glanced up, and I saw this huge tree coming down, and it landed on our garage roof."

The tree left a gaping hole and crushed the garage.

"It was a mess all over, but it could have been worse, and we're grateful it wasn't worse," Love said.

In Green Cove Springs, several downed power lines and trees were reported. The carport of the Ring family's home was destroyed by one fallen tree.

"I had to run around to my house to just get in my house because the trees pretty much had everything blocked," Jeff Ring said. "

Luckily, Wanise Ring was at the store when it happened.

"Had she come home, right there, is where should would have been parked, where that shed is crushed," Jeff Ring said.

The homeowners that News4Jax spoke with all said they had insurance, and they will be calling their agents. 

Insurance companies say it's important to document any damage, even if it's just photos on a smartphone. Many companies allow a short time to make a claim, so contact insurance providers right away.

Experts also said if any power lines are obstructed by debris or trees, residents should turn off their power until an electrician can check out the damage.

Clay County residents were urged to stay away from downed power lines and to report any storm-related damage to emergency management staff at 904-284-7703.

Storm damage reported across Jacksonville

Storm damage was also reported across Jacksonville Tuesday -- from Lakewood to Mandarin to Springfield.

In the Lakewood area off San Jose Boulevard, an old oak tree fell through the roof of a rental home.

Paul Deville and his wife Peggy were just days away from packing up their rental home, until the storm blew through Tuesday. 

Deville said he had been telling the owner to cut down the tree for a while.

"Living room, dining room and kitchen -- that's where the most damage was. But I think since it was raining, a lot of water got into the attic. And you can see different places throughout the house where the floor is all wet," Deville said. 

A small part of the roof crashed in and plaster was cracked in the process. In the kitchen, part of the wall shifted down.

Deville said his family's belongings were mostly unharmed because they had already been packed away.

They ware waiting to find out if they can move into their new home Wednesday.

In the Mandarin area of Jacksonville, a downed tree was reported at San Jose Boulevard and Haley Road. 

One family also had to clean up Tuesday night after a massive tree fell in their front yard of the Mandarin home about 5 p.m.

Christina Scalzi-Cordova, the homeowner's daughter, told News4Jax that her father was insistent on getting rid of the mess as soon as possible.

"He said he was going to do this tomorrow, and then at the last minute, he called my son to help," Scalzi-Cordova said. "Luckily, it went the other way and not toward the house."

In Springfield and in Jacksonville's Northside, downed trees were the biggest problem after the storms swept through Tuesday. There was also some flooding in downtown Jacksonville, but no streets were closed.

One home in Springfield sustained minor damage after a tree fell on it. 

Jerry Delisle said he had just finished up cutting up tree limbs when an old oak tree fell on his garage Monday. Then Tuesday, powerful winds and rain caused another tree to come crashing on the roof of the house next door. 

On the Northside, a tree fell on top of a white car, shattering the windshield. 

Landscaper Jackson Bernard said downed trees can be prevented and it will cost homeowners much less if they remove old trees before a storm hits.

"Get rid of them, especially before the storm comes through. Knock them down before they tear your house up," Bernard said.

Bernard estimated the cost of removing a tree is about $1,500.


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