wjxt logo

Businesses survey aftermath, clean up in wake of EF-1 Elsa tornado

Mangled pieces of roof litter an industrial park in Jacksonville and wrapped around a cell tower

Businesses survey aftermath, clean up in wake of EF-1 Elsa tornado
Businesses survey aftermath, clean up in wake of EF-1 Elsa tornado

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.

Pieces of the mangled roof could be seen across the property. (WJXT)

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.

Crews could be seen Thursday removing the roof sections from the cellphone tower
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.

RELATED: Neighborhoods begin recovery from Elsa tornado damage in Jacksonville

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.

Tornado outside of family business
Tornado outside of family business

“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.

PHOTOS: Florida, Georgia clean up after destruction from Elsa

“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:

Tornado spotted outside Pratt Brothers
Tornado spotted outside Pratt Brothers

“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.

San Jose Tornado Damage
San Jose Tornado Damage

About the Authors:

An Emmy-nominated TV reporter and weekend anchor.

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.