JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A tornadic cell that passed over Jacksonville on Wednesday evening left a wake of damage that residents and business owners are beginning to dig out from Thursday.
The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado that touched down during Tropical Storm Elsa was an EF-1 packing an estimated 105-110 mph. The NWS estimates the tornado touched down in Mandarin around 4:45 p.m. and ended around 4:51 p.m. in Arlington.
Cannons on Richard Street, a family business near Philips and I-95, had its aluminum roof ripped off and left in a twisted heap.
Just arriving on the Southside… tin roofing ripped from a nearby business Thursday during a tornado is still wrapped around a tower hundreds of feet in the air. Sheets of metal are scattered throughout the area. #TropicalStormElsa #FLwx @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/jIy7YFcNVg— Zachery Lashway (@ZachLashway) July 8, 2021
Pieces of mangled metal were wrapped around the top of a communications tower nearby.
Crews could be seen Thursday removing the roof sections from the cellphone tower.
It was hard to tell what was in the debris as pieces of roofing and fence and other items were strewn across the industrial property.
Wayne Griffin, the IT director at Secur-Net USA Inc., said he was at work in the industrial park when the tornado tore through.
His building’s surveillance camera captured terrifying video of the tornado ripping up the street.
“The lights started flickering a bit, so I went outside to see what was going on outside,” Griffin said. “Initially the wind was calm. (I) didn’t hear anything. Then a few seconds later, I just started hearing this whooshing sound and I saw the funnel cloud coming down.”
Griffin said he ran back inside and hunkered down under a conference room table to wait it out. He was the only person in the office at the time.
“Mother Nature. That’s all I can say,” Griffin said. “Mother Nature.”
Tammy Lassack was working alone at Read’s Florida Moving on Bowdendale Avenue.
“I got the alerts, but I chose to ignore them. And then I heard that noise,” Lassack said. “Some people say it sounds like a train, which is similar, but it is more like a higher pitch whistle.”
Video of the tornado also taken along Philips Highway and posted on the Pratt Guys Facebook page:
“There is a tornado right there! That is a big tornado!” a man can be heard exclaiming in the video.
After the storm passed through, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry held a news conference and stressed the importance of residents knowing their flood and evacuation zone.
“We’re just outside of the July 4 holiday, and we’ve had our first storm, and unfortunately, we’ve had a fatality,” Curry said.
The mayor was referring to an incident in the Ortega neighborhood, where a man was killed when a tree branch fell and hit two vehicles.
The NWS first tweeted about the tornado at about 5:05 p.m. when the storm was moving toward Arlington. The map above shows locations where News4Jax has received photos of storm damage.