JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Toppled trees, mangled branches and damaged homes were the evidence that remained Thursday after an EF1 tornado touched down in Jacksonville during Tropical Storm Elsa.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado with 105-110 mph winds touched down about 4:45 p.m. along San Ardo Drive, continued on a northward path through the San Jose area, crossed Philips Highway and moved along Bowdendale Avenue. The NWS said the tornado crossed Interstate 95 near the Bowden Road interchange before weakening as it impacted University Christian School and then just northeast of Englewood High School about 4:51 p.m.
Damage and debris were spotted along Argentine Drive off Powers Avenue, where fences were ripped apart along the street and a home was boarded up.
San Jose resident Shontres Simpson said she felt several minutes of terror hearing the punishing winds, rain and debris pummel her home on Argentine Drive.
“I have my grandkids here and my kids, and I was like, ‘Everybody in the hallway,’” Simpson recalled. “Just as soon as it started, it sounded like a train coming through.”
After the storm, she saw the damage to her backyard: A falling tree destroyed a shed and ripped open an above-ground pool.
San Jose resident Kimvy Lim was also at her home when the storm swept through, causing damage to much of her family’s yard and her chicken coop. Lim said the damage is devastating, but she’s relieved no one in the neighborhood was hurt.
Other neighbors were starting to clean up the debris and pile it onto the curb for the city to gather up and haul out on Thursday, and workers were seen using a vehicle with a claw to remove tree debris from the streets.
As residents arrange home repair work, local contractor Scott Brooks said they need to be careful in who they hire.
“Be careful, don’t sign anything with anybody right away, do your due diligence on that company that you’re going to use,” Brooks said. “File your claim, let your insurance company send out their adjuster, whoever your insurance company is.”
Brooks said it’s also important to remember that while many insurance companies will recommend a contractor to work with, it’s the homeowner’s decision.
At the Pinebrook Apartments on Powers Avenue, the American Red Cross was called in Wednesday to help tenants who suffered damages.
The tornado caused a tree to rip apart and collapse onto several apartments.
“We’re going to bring some teams out to check in with the families and check in with the management company of the complex to make sure these families are taken care of,” said Gerald Thomas with the Red Cross.
A tree at the complex tore in half and took out a staircase, and tree limbs large and small were strewn across the property Thursday morning.
The tornado was captured Wednesday on a security camera from someone’s home.
Video was 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.
The map below shows locations where News4Jax has received photos of storm damage.