Okeechobee County recovers after Thursday's tornado

- National Weather Service members were on the ground Friday morning in Okeechobee County surveying Thursday’s storm damage. Several RV’s, trailers, trucks remained toppled, three homes destroyed, and 14 structures damaged.

The shock is still setting in for many residents, 24 hours after wicked weather ripped their neighborhood into shreds. The people who live here don't need scientists to tell them that this is the wreckage of a tornado. 

"The funnel was seen, it was sighted behind the office and we saw it moving from west to east through the park,” said Shayna Jacques a biologist with the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.

The National Weather Service surveyed the damage in neighborhoods in Fort Drum and at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Okeechobee sheriff deputies, emergency management, and state park workers cleared roads and debris so residents could come back home.

The storm destroyed Rodney Kemple’s home and he told us he had to sleep in his truck for the night.

"So far we've only been able to pick up like pictures and keepsakes and stuff that we know we are going to keep, after that find out what the insurance will do for us,” stated Rodney Kemple.

It is a miracle everyone survived this storm. The Red Cross was at the Fort Drum Community Church trying to get the basics to people who lost everything.

"Everything I saw on the news, it's heartbreaking you know one day it could be good and the next thing it could be total devastation,” said a volunteer Daniel Doyon. “I learned that last month when I lost my wife in a horrific car crash so I'm here to help."

We saw a community spirit and a survival mentality to get through this disaster.

“It’s unfortunate they lost many things but they have each other and they have their lives to live on and this will be a memory and bring people closer together,” stated Doyon.

The National Weather Service will determine later today if in fact a tornado touched down in Okeechobee County. Check back with FOX 35 News for updates.

 

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