Port Charlotte residents clean up after 2 tornadoes touch down

- Two tornadoes touched down Wednesday in Charlotte County in a matter of minutes.

Dozens of homes were damaged, forcing some to find shelter elsewhere. With hundreds of homes still without power by night time, neighbors relied on generators and spotlights to begin those the cleanup.

Faith Holcom said looking around her neighborhood, "it's jus... it's a mess."

The first tornado touched down around 1:15 p.m. in the Murdock area of Port Charlotte.

"I could see the clouds rotating and debris just flying everywhere," said Lorah Steiner.

"Looked like little funnel things," Andy Shumman said. "It was pitch black in front of us and then all of a sudden, we started seeing spray going around in a circle."

The National Weather Service measured it at EF-0. The winds, up to 65 miles per hour, ripped pieces of the SunTrust building right off.

"It was kind of like a 'pfff,'" Holcom recalled of the sound it made.

Holcom was working inside the building at the time. She remember watching the ceiling tiles move, "and dust came out. It was very scary."

Once the weather cleared, she thought she'd dodged a bullet.

"I said you know, I am going to go home and make sure everything is okay," Holcom said. "I get to Rampart and Capricorn and all the damage there, and I am going, this is not good."

Sure enough, her Deep Creek home was in the path of a second tornado. This one was an EF-1 with winds up to 97 miles per hour.

It ripped off roofs, sliced screens and knocked over everything in its path.

"The house did shake," said Haley Fox, who lives in the Harbor Heights area. "I think it just happened so fast I couldn't process what was going on. You just heard the gust of wind and when you looked out the window, you couldn't see anything. It was literally gray."

Charlotte County Emergency Management reports more than 30 homes damaged in the Deep Creek area, with almost a dozen unlivable.

"Some of them are going to have to stay in hotels," Holcom said of her neighbors.

With the danger long gone, neighbors who are lucky enough to sleep in their own beds tonight are doing whatever they can to help those who lost a lot more.

"Now, I've just got to figure out what to do to pick up the pieces and get everything fixed," said Mike Thorpe.

Though the repairs will be costly, especially for those homes that had their roofs blown off, neighbors here are counting their blessings that nobody was hurt or killed.

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