Tornado Flips Cars Like Toys At Broward College’s North Campus

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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – High winds and a tornado left their mark on parts of Coconut Creek Wednesday morning.

A National Weather Service survey team confirmed it was a EF1 tornado with winds between 90 to 100 mph that swept through parts of the city.

Not only is it suspected of flipping a tractor trailer on the Turnpike, it is also thought to be responsible for damage at Broward College’s north campus.

Just after 9 a.m., the college sent out warnings via text, email and social media that nasty weather was on the way.

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CBS4’s Gaby Fleischman said high winds lifted some cars and toppled others and sent them flying. Fortunately no injuries were reported.

Storm damage at Broward College in Coconut Creek (Source: Coconut Creek Police)

Storm damage at Broward College in Coconut Creek (Source: Coconut Creek Police)

“I saw the car flying, it was crazy, I was scared, we tried to get to safety, so we didn’t stay a long time watching the things get thrown around,” said student Leonard Einstein. “We saw a couple of cars flying around and everything was awful outside. It was very windy, very rainy, it was terrible.”

Storm Damage In Coconut Creek (Source: Coconut Creek Police)

Storm Damage In Coconut Creek (Source: Coconut Creek Police)

The high winds also damaged and uprooted trees on campus.

Some students said they got an alert on their phone from the college warning them of the potentially dangerous weather.  When they looked outside they saw what looked like a funnel cloud ripping through the parking lot.  They said they heard howling winds and crashing noises before the power temporarily went out at the sciences building.

“There were really low clouds, the tornado started to touch down and we noticed it and immediately everybody got up and ran inside the hallway,” said student Virginia Diano.  “It was intimidating, you could hear the crashes and feel the shaking of the building.  But it kind of happened so quickly that, you know by the time the lights turned off and came back on, everybody was okay.”

“People were running from the parking lot towards the building and the cars were overturned and stacked one on top of one another,” said assistant professor Phillip Bachers.  “I came out to check to see whether any people were trapped.  I didn’t see anyone trapped, it was just property damage and we’re very thankful for that.”

Student Alexis Wilkerson said she was in the campus cafe with friends when all of their phones went off with warnings from the college about the severe storm conditions heading their way.

“Within about two minutes after that it got suddenly dark, the rain got really intense then you could see the rain with wind just gushing. You could see limbs from trees falling down and adults running from outside for shelter. One person opened the door and door slammed back and people were trying to shut it,” she said.

She said a faculty worker then came out and told them if it got worse, everyone should go in the back to the kitchen area where they would be better protected because it doesn’t have any windows.

Einstein said said he his fellow students remained calm, they didn’t go outside and stayed away from windows until the worst had passed.

“It was scary, this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, but we have good instructors, a good faculty and everybody took care of everybody else,” said Einstein.

A small transport bus on Coconut Creek Parkway near the campus was flipped on its side. The driver told CBS4 it all happened in a split second.

“I was driving and all of the sudden I felt I was up in the air and then slammed back down, that was it,” said bus driver Kevin Richards.

He suffered a minor injury to his right side.

After the danger had passed, the college issued the following statement.

“At Broward College, the health, safety and welfare of the College community is of utmost importance. This morning, we learned of a severe weather advisory in the area of our North Campus. The established procedures were followed, and a notice was immediately sent out through the College-wide BC Alert system via phone calls, text messages, social media and the Broward College website. The situation is currently being accessed as emergency personnel complete their investigation. Broward College will continue to monitor the advisories and send additional alerts as needed.”

All classes at the college were canceled until 5 p.m.

Storm damage including downed trees and structural damage has been reported in Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate and Wynmoor.

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