Deadly Tornadoes Rip Through Central Florida

February 2007 Central Florida tornado map courtesy of WESH OrlandoI honestly don’t know where to start with this post. I went to bed last night in MetroWest to heavy sheets of rain and strong winds. I woke up late morning to find out that a mere hour north, there was complete devastation as overnight tornadoes tore a path from Wildwood to New Smyrna, cutting through four counties. In addition to the map on the right, you can view an interactive map set up by the Orlando Sentinel to view the areas hit in last night’s storm.

Heaviest hit were the areas around The Villages, Lady Lake and Paisley, in Lake County. At least 19 are dead, but the count may rise as rescue crews comb through the wreckage. Smaller towns like Lake Mack have been completely obliterated. Just east, the city of DeLand has experienced extensive damage, as has Port Orange and New Smyrna. You can view pictures of it at the Orlando Sentinel, as well as local news outlets like WESH and WKMG. Many of these sites also have video coverage, if you can’t make it to a TV set.

Gov. Charlie Crist, accompanied by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum, toured the storm-ravaged areas this afternoon. Watching them on WESH’s coverage, McCollum was heard to say to Gov. Crist that they needed to put party allegiences aside and do whatever was necessary to help the people. Crist was seen nodding vigourously in agreement.

Several storm shelters have been set up in the counties along the tornado path. This Orlando Sentinel article lists them, as does this WESH article, if you need a place to stay. Locally-based Rosen Hotels has offered a special rate for storm survivors at their Orlando-area hotels. You can view the list and rates here – most are even pet friendly, for an additional fee.

In addition, most communities are increasing local police support to prevent incidents of looting or worse. Sad to think in a time like this, that is necessary, but unfortunately, this is the world we live in.

What can you do to help? Right now, two things:

1] If you don’t have to be in any of the affected areas, don’t be there. The less people in the storm damaged areas the better since officials will be able to do their jobs without having to control a crowd. Besides, your looking isn’t helping anything.

2] Donate to the Red Cross. Most important is monetary donations as it allows them to distribute to the areas most needed the quickest. You can also call them at 1-866-HELP-NOW to make your donation. Reps for the Red Cross say they really need donations above all else, as past storms have left them short and they really want to be able to help the people who most need it.

If you’re reading this, I hope you weren’t one of the many affected by these storms. If you were, please know you’re in our prayers and if you need anything, please post a comment.

The next few weeks will be difficult for thousands of our fellow Central Floridians. Please do what you can to help them.

1 Comment so far

  1. Steve (unregistered) on February 11th, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

    you live in Metrowest? You’re brave.

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