‘Before I knew it, the storm was here': DeLand car shop hides for safety as tornado blows off roof of building

Businesses along Woodland Boulevard in DeLand, Florida spent all day Wednesday cleaning up after a tornado ripped through the day before.

Robert Ripley owns a car repair shop on Kensington Road. He said at first he thought it was a typical Florida summer day.

“Yeah, it rains all the time, so it was like OK, it’ll be alright,” he said. 

Then, without notice, a tornado blew off the roof of the building. Ripley said he, his son and two clients took shelter.

“Barricaded myself against the door so it wouldn’t blow it open,” he explained.

The storm left holes in the ceiling of his building and parts of his roof were scattered across yards of other nearby businesses.

Some of it traveled as far as the Hungry Howie’s down the street, managed by Devon Pierce. The pizza shop didn’t get much damage, but the storm knocked out power.

“It’s probably gonna be a little bit before we get it. Our transformers right there,” he said.

Pierce said it all happened in a flash.

“All hell broke loose, pardon my language, and two seconds later it was done,” he said.

As for Ripley, he said it could take weeks and tens of thousands of dollars to get back up and running.