Saturday, February 3, 2007
At least 19 people have been killed in central Florida in the city of Lady Lake and Paisley after severe storms and a tornado ripped through the cities in the middle of the night. Eleven of those killed were in Paisley and three were in Lady Lake.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews resume tomorrow morning.
Volusia, Sumter, Lake and Seminole counties have all been declared a state of an emergency as dozens of houses, mobile homes and a church were destroyed. Clothes and furniture are scattered around the wrecked houses and pieces of trees are scattered about. Cars are reported to have been turned over or thrown around in the air.
“Our priority today is search and rescue,” said Gov. of Florida, Charlie Crist. Rescuers are still looking through the wreckage to find survivors of those who might have been killed.
A spokeman for the emergency response team of Lake county, Chris Patton calls the damage “devastating” and worse than “hurricanes in 2004.”
“We have complete devastation of homes, of businesses, religious institutions. It was unlike even perhaps the hurricanes of 2004 when we had minor roof damage, screen damage, pool damage. This is way far more devastating,” said Patton.
The storms hit at about 3:15 [EST] a.m. on Friday morning. At least 20,000-30,000 people are without power.