Jefferson County community cleaning up after EF-3 tornado

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 4, 2019

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Jefferson County community hit the ground Monday, cleaning up after Sunday's storms ripped through the area.

Jefferson County emergency officials spent Monday morning assessing the damage. Two areas that were hit the hardest were Willie Road and the Heritage Hills development off of Highway 59.

Officials said Monday evening that the tornado was an EF-3, reaching peak wind speeds of 140 miles per hour. The path of the storm was clearly marked by downed trees, dozens uprooted, and even more broken off at about 20 feet above ground.

No injuries were reported in Jefferson County.

"There were a lot of trees that were down, citizens were already starting to get out with their chainsaws and going to work on them, getting the roads cleared," said Sheriff Mac McNeil. "Both the areas, as you can see behind us here, a lot of trees were snapped off about 20 feet up. Luckily the damage to homes has been small, we've had some eases that got hit by some of the limbs, a couple roofs have gotten hit."

Tiffany and Walker Gregory live in Heritage Hills. The roof on the back of their home was ripped off during the storm. They also lost several trees beside their home. The family said they took cover as soon as they heard the storm start.

"Kind of started hearing it raining and the wind was just hitting the house, the side of the house and we just kind of knew something wasn't right. It wasn't a normal wind gust or anything like that, it was just a constant gust of wind. It was shaking a lot," Tiffany said.

Many homeowners in the area were still in shock Monday at the power of the storm. The Gregorys said they had never experienced a storm like what happened Sunday.

"No, never. I've been through a lot of hurricanes in my life and this doesn't compare to what I've ever been through. It was definitely scary," Tiffany said.

County crews continued to clean up debris and trees on Monday. Sheriff McNeil said no streets were closed off, and most of the reported damage had been to trees. Overall, the community said they are just thankful everyone was safe.

Sheriff McNeil advises residents to sign up for Nixle. Local emergency management officials use the service to send out up-to-date safety warnings and information specific to the area during storms. Anyone can sign up for free online.

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