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Tornado confirmed, ripped through Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens neighborhoods

Roofs damaged, trees toppled during storms

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that a tornado touched down in Miami-Dade County overnight, leaving heavy damage behind.

A line of storms that passed through South Florida knocked down power lines, toppled trees and damaged homes.

An EF-1 tornado hit neighborhoods in Miami Springs, Hialeah and Virginia Gardens about 3:45 a.m. Peak winds were measured at 107 mph.

By Monday night, the sound of Florida Power and Light trucks and generators echoed through a Miami Springs neighborhood as the cleanup effort continued. 

The tornado touched down just east of the Palmetto Expressway, between Northwest 55th Street and 48th Street.

"We have damage reported to us from the Palmetto all the way to Hialeah, so it is a large damage path right now," Robert Garcia, from the NWS, said.

Several tornado warnings and watches were issued for Broward and Miami-Dade counties late Sunday night and throughout the early morning hours Monday.

Several residential buildings near West Third Avenue and  West 10th Street in Hialeah had roof damage.

Eric Gonzalez was among those residents whose roof was exposed after the storm passed.

Gonzalez told Local 10 News that he was sleeping when he heard the sound of shattering glass coming from a kitchen window.

Gonzalez, who lives at the apartment with his wife, daughter, aunt and uncle, got his family out safely.

Pieces of the ceiling landed on his daughter's bed shortly thereafter.

"We are blessed," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said his landlord was providing his family with a temporary place to stay. The Red Cross is also helping 11 other families in the area.

"Our first priority is making sure the affected families and individuals have a safe place to go," said Carlos Castillo, regional disaster officer of the American Red Cross South Florida Region. "The Red Cross is helping now and we will continue to be there as they recover from these storms."

More than 600 FPL customers were without power as of 10 p.m. Monday in Broward County, while about 1,300 FPL customers were without power in Miami-Dade County.

Kimberly Hogan of Miami Springs was one of those customers without power. 

"The ceiling, the air went through here and popped the ceiling down," Hogan said about the storm damage inside her home. 

Hogan hid inside a hallway as the storm passed through and brought the ceiling down in her bedroom. 

"It scared me to death," she said. "I went running for the hallway and I got to the hallway and called my mom and dad and I noticed the damage outside." 

A tractor-trailer toppled over in an industrial area near Northwest 50th Street and Northwest 74th Avenue. The truck damaged several other vehicles parked next to it and took out some nearby power lines.

Across the street, more trucks and 40 cargo containers were overturned and trees snapped in half by the storm.

At Seko Worldwide, employees said they were forced to work in the dark Monday morning, while they waited for FPL and insurance adjusters to get back to them.

"It reminds me of Hurricane Andrew, because I was down here for that," Shaun Lones said. "When I saw the trucks like that, it's kind of surreal."

Rick Arnold had a portion of his business' roof was blown off, a garage door knocked down and ceiling tiles inside smashed to the floor.

"We'll have to see what happens with the rest of the structure once time goes by, but we're just trying to get our windows and doors straight to secure the building," he said.

Surveillance video shows the sheer power of the storm ripping through Arnold's business.

"How fast something like this could happen and the damage could be so intense so fast," he said.

Eighty to 90 mph winds were reported in Miami Springs, where debris and destruction were left behind.

At "3:30 am in the a.m. I got the alert and heard it, like a freight train," Todd Ramirez said.

NWS officials said the tornado took a path to the east-northeast, causing the damage in the Hialeah and Miami Springs areas.

The damage path ended near the intersection of West Second Avenue and 12th Street.

No injuries were reported.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue reported a partial roof collapse at a residence on Northwest 79th Avenue in Doral. Multiple trees were uprooted at the same apartment complex.

A portion of a roof was missing from a home near Swan Avenue and Hammond Drive in Miami Springs. A view from Sky 10 showed several trees uprooted and a boat resting in the grass next to a palm tree resting on its side. 

Gates, mailboxes and window awnings were damaged in a neighborhood near Northwest 118th Street and Northwest Fifth Avenue in Miami-Dade County.

Several garbage cans were also strewn about the neighborhood.

Farther north in Palm Beach Gardens, William T. Dwyer High School was closed because of apparent tornado damage on campus. Debris was scattered about the school's baseball field.

"Our season is supposed to start next week and we got to come out here, so hopefully they'll have it fixed for us. Otherwise we'll have to find somewhere to practice for the next couple of weeks," baseball player Kyle Khachadurian said. 

The damage at the school is estimated to be between $500,000 and $1 million, Palm Beach County School District officials said.

"Here in the Jupiter/Palm Beach Gardens area, we're impacted, but this is the only school that actually closed down for the entire day," superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said.

The NWS surveyed the damage in Palm Beach Gardens, Juno Beach, Miami Springs and Hialeah.

NWS officials said the EF-1 tornado touched down in Palm Beach Gardens to Juno Beach with 90 mph winds.

Officials said no injuries related to the storm have been reported.

Click here for interactive radar.


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