Sarasota neighborhoods begin cleanup after storms

- The bad weather started slowly, but for people in homes and condos in Sarasota, there was no amout of time long enough to prepare. 

Storms woke Susan Culliton and her husband as they slept in their Siesta Key condo.

"First there was a lot of rain, and then you could feel the winds pick up," she recalled. "There was a distinct sound of a train roaring through and my husband said, “Hit the floor!" 

The warnings went out, then the tornado hit. Others at the Excelsior condo heard it too.

"There was a big roar and the wind got really loud. Next thing we knew the ceiling cracked. The roof fell in," said Norm Statland. "The unit that I am in, you can't live in it. It is not possible to live in it."

One building's roof ripped off and will take about six months to repair - it's residents having to move out. 

"My dog started barking and then by the time I figured out what it was it was over," said Lois Steele, who lives across the street at Crystal Sands.

Outside, the debris was everywhere. Screened porches were blown in at Crystal Sands and Crescent Arms and dozens of cars had their windows blown out.

People gathered what they could as Sarasota County Fire responded along with the Red Cross.

"All I am going to lose is some clothes and some belonging," said Statland.

As dawn broke, stunned residents couldn't believe their eyes and realized how lucky they were.

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF-2 with maximum winds of 132 mph. It covered just over a mile in five minutes.

Meanwhile, Sarasota County officials say they've inspected more than 350 properties since the storm and about 45 are what they called "seriously" damaged.  They ask the public to call (941) 861-5000 with questions or reports of storm damage, or visit


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