CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – As Tropical Storm Elsa moved across North Florida and into Southeast Georgia, the system brought with it heavy rains and wind gusts -- enough to spawn a tornado that resulted in more than a dozen injuries at an RV park near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado that touched down in Camden County on Wednesday was rated at EF-2, packing estimated peak wind speeds of 130 mph. The tornado had an overall path length of 3.65 miles and a width of 200 yards.
The NWS said it’s aware of 17 total injuries as a result of the storm, 11 of which resulted in hospitalizations. That’s more than the 10 originally reported Wednesday by Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay -- all of which were not believed to be life-threatening injuries.
The tornado initially touched down along East St. Marys Street -- just north of the St. Marys River, according to the survey. It strengthened to EF-2 intensity, damaging homes along Conyers and Norris streets, before continuing north-northwest, where it produced “EF-1 damage” to a mobile home along Point Peter Road.
The NWS said the tornado reached its maximum strength at the Eagle Hammock RV Park, where multiple recreational vehicles were flipped. One was blown about 200 feet into a lake north of the RV park, where a pickup truck was also found.
IMAGES: Camden County storm damage
Elijah Dougbe was inside his house when the tornado came through.
“I saw the neighbor’s RV spinning in the air,” Dougbe said. “I ran back into the house. When I came back out, everything was damaged.”
The damage included two homes that are next to each other and a shed in his backyard that he uses for work.
The RV he was referring to belongs to his neighbor across the street. Ken Hibner, the owner, said it was parked in his driveway when the tornado picked it up and carried it 225 feet to the corner of Lanes Lane and T Street.
“My neighbors over here say it was spinning like a top and it hit the wires over here and that’s what stopped it,” Hibner said.
The tornado was on the ground for approximately four minutes, the NWS said. It said the 17 injuries were all reported at the RV park.
Church lends helping hand to single mom & her daughter
Alexandra Fields, 12, said she and her mom were inside their home Wednesday when the tornado came close to their home on Point Peter Road.
“It was roaring like a train going by, and it was hitting the walls,” she said.
Fields said she and her mom hid in the closet. By the time the tornado went away, they realized two trees in the front yard and five trees in the back yard had been snapped by the tornado. Fortunately, they all missed the home.
More than a dozen members of the Harbor Worship Center in Kingsland realized it was too much of a cleanup effort for the owner, who is a single mom, and they volunteered to remove the trees.
“There’s people who want to help. There’s people who want to make a difference at our local church and that’s what we are about,” said Eddie Martinez, associate pastor of Harbor Worship Center.
The effort to remove the downed trees and debris has been long and tedious.
“I’m actually really happy that they’re here,” Fields said.
It was at least the third tornado confirmed Wednesday in the Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida area. The NWS estimates an EF-0 tornado touched down Wednesday morning in Columbia County.
According to the NWS, an EF-1 was responsible for damage in parts of Jacksonville. That tornado packed maximum peak winds between 105 and 110 mph.