Damage and destruction left behind after tornado rips through parts of Florida

Neighborhoods in southwestern Florida are picking up the pieces after a tornado damages dozens of homes Sunday morning.

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – A powerful winter storm triggered a rare tornado Sunday on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

An EF2 tornado with estimated wind speeds of 118 mph touched down in Fort Myers.

It was only on the ground for a few minutes but left a path of destruction in its wake, obliterating dozens of homes.

“We heard it coming and we jumped in the closet,” said Gulf Harbor resident Roger Ratigan.

Cell phone video captured this fast-moving twister as it ripped through parts of Lee County on Sunday morning.

The National Weather Service warned residents of tornados before the storm hit, but people like Skip Harris, who braced for the tornado, didn’t expect to be hit this hard.

“I saw the twister debris flying around and my wife was still in the house,” he said. “I screamed, ‘Get dressed.’”

A powerful winter storm triggered a rare tornado on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The storm was severe, from unrecognizable homes and debris scattered all over front yards to downed trees, roofs blown on to cars, fast-rising water flooding several homes and even an overturned tanker on alligator alley in collier county.

“Our pool cage is gone,” Ratigan said. “Our roof, a lot of damage up on our roof. All the pool furniture is gone. A lot of damage to our tiki bar. We’re not going to have a party for a while.”

Edward Murray said the storm lifted him off his feet, trapping him inside his home.

Firefighters would get him out.

“The fire department got here, they are strong hardworking men who came in through that rubble to get me,” Murray said.

Officials say thousand across Lee County remain without power as people band together to pick up the pieces after the devastating storm.

About the Author:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.