Tornado destroys homes in Fort Myers area

Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 3:51 PM EST
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The storms may have scraped South Florida, but on the Gulf Coast, it was a different story.

A powerful tornado in the Fort Myers area damaged more than 100 mobile homes, leaving people to seek shelter elsewhere. Viewer video from that area shows debris flying around the storm.

“This really came. It came hard and it came fast,” said Roger Ratigan whose home was damaged. “This happened so fast, it was just unbelievable.”

Lee County officials say the tornado was traveling at 118 miles per hour when it touched down around 7:35 Sunday morning. It may have been on the ground for around 5 minutes. There have been four reported injuries, and one pet that is missing.

“Everybody saw funnel clouds. But I didn’t. Because I was hiding. Then we evacuated for a little while. Because they have said a second one might be coming,” said Sandy Chavanne, Lives in the Centurylink 21 Mobile Home Community.

Sandy Chavanne lives in the centurylink 21 mobile home community just south of downtown Ft. Myers. She describes the phenomenon as worse than hurricane Irma.

“The devastation. The number of houses that are damaged, and damaged pretty badly," said Chavanne.

Of the more than 100 homes damaged, at least 30 of those homes are completely destroyed. The majority of the homes impacted are in the Iona-McGregor area of Lee county. On top of that more than ten thousand customers are without power.

“It was all very quick. The storm came through really quickly. This is why the pressure of the tornado is created because of the quick moving storm. Not much rainfall at all. We had no issue of flooding at all. It was all wind damage,” said Cecil Pendergrass, Lee County Board Chairman.

In light of what happened, there is still a sense of community acting as the glue that holds this mobile park together.

“People are upset, but we’re going to pull together as a community. There is no doubt in my mind," said Chavanne.

The South Florida Red Cross is on the ground helping. There is also a tornado relief fund website established in partnership with United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties to help those impacted by the tornado devastation.

Below is video of fire rescue crews surveying damage to mobile homes in Englewood, near Fort Myers.

Heavy damage at mobile home park in Englewood, Florida

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