Reporting Lisa Cilli
SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Homeowners in Sunrise and Plantation are assessing the damage left behind by a tornado that caused major property damage and minor injuries.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was given a preliminary rating of E-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale which measures damages caused by the winds. The highest rating is an EF-5.
Packing tops winds of 120 mph the tornado, which had a width of about 125 yards, tore a path of destruction for more than a mile.
Plantation Fire Battalion Chief Joel Gordon says the damage was severe in some places especially in the area of NW 133rd Avenue and 8th Street in Sunrise.
“Once the lights flickered,” said homeowner Pete Conde, “We heard a big roar and I just threw my wife down on the ground and a big roar broke loose.”
“It’s almost like a hurricane went through the house, but there was no hurricane,” said Barb McKie. “I didn’t hear anything. I just remember pressure and jumping off the couch and telling my kids and family run! Run to the hallway.”
Two dozen homes in one Sunrise neighborhood were damaged. Two had their roof tops ripped off; others had roof damage, broken widows and trees blown over. Six homes have been deemed a total loss.
“This tornado definitely was pretty strong,” said NWS meteorologist Robert Molledo, “Much stronger than the average soft tornado.”
“In the end this was really a miracle in Sunrise. That no one got killed or hurt,” said Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan.
Yom-Tov Assidon hid behind his refrigerator. He watched his roof peel off as he was getting ice cream.
“I couldn’t see nothing, only the sky,” said Assidon.
In fact, getting up to get ice cream may have saved Assidon’s life.
“If he didn’t get up he would be dead because the glass went right through the chair (he was sitting in) and the chair moved,” said family member Diana Suskind.
Vivi Assivon’s home was nearly pulled from its foundation. Assivon said his wife recently had surgery which required a lot of stitches and the pressure from the tornado caused her stitches to open.
“We’re lucky, we’re alive, that’s most important,” said Assivon. “The house can be replaced, people you can’t replace.”
“I was scared. I looked outside, the trees were bent over, the fence was moving, the windows were moving, and it was just run, get to someplace safe where we’ll be all right,” said neighbor Tom Szoke. “It was scary to come outside and see what happened around the neighborhood. There are houses torn up and fences gone. There’s pool enclosures gone, there’s front doors missing off homes right now. It’s scary. We’re fortunate that it didn’t come through our home, but I’m feeling very sorry for a few of our close friends that were impacted by it.”
Clayton Szoke said the sound of the tornado was terrifying.
“It was just, it sounded like a train. It was crazy. It was the loudest wind I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s indescribable,” said Szoke. “It’s unbelievable. It’s just the destruction a tornado can cause. I didn’t know it would be this serious.”
Most of the tornado damage in Plantation took place inside a trailer home park just south of Sunrise Boulevard at Commodore Drive and 4th Street. The tornado destroyed an unoccupied mobile home at the Sunshine City Mobile Community. The clubhouse’s roof was almost torn off and the twister left debris scattered all over the parking lot.
“We just put a new roof on last April,” said Bob Ratke, “This is unbelievable.”
Many of the mobile homes were unoccupied because the residents are snowbirds.
“It’s painful to see your life turned upside down,” said Maureen Bradley who returned to find her mobile home destroyed. “It’s a mess, an absolute mess, it’s all I can say.”
Laila Najm, whose mobile home is next to the one which was destroyed, said she and her mother felt their home lift off the ground as the tornado came through.
“It lasted two to three seconds but it was real scary. It felt like a hurricane wind only one thousand times stronger. It felt like everything will fall apart,” said Najm.
Ricky Lewis said he heard a bang and when he looked out he found a large tree had fallen and destroyed his front proch.
Considering the extent of the damage firefighters said it’s amazing there weren’t any serious injuries.
“People had no time to prepare. We think we got away pretty lucky,” said Gordon.
The American Red Cross is on the scene in both Plantation and Sunrise helping storm victims.
In addition to the property damage to a total of 50 homes, many streets were left littered with debris, downed trees and some power outages.
The severe weather, which continued Wednesday morning, caused school officials in the Florida Keys to cancel classes Wednesday.
By late Wednesday, a cold front is finally expected to push across South Florida and drive out a sluggish, soggy tropical wave that made for a dreary couple of days but also went a long way toward ending South Florida’s lingering drought concerns.