A Florida city has been flattened by a possible tornado that downed power lines, uprooted trees and flooded streets, as rescuers try to reach residents trapped inside their homes.
Severe storms tore through central Florida Tuesday afternoon, hammering the city of DeLand, around 34 miles north of Orlando.
Homes were damaged, tree limbs were ripped in two and cars were overturned by the thunderstorm which wrought a destructive path through neighborhoods.
No injuries have been reported as of Tuesday night but rescuers are going door to door checking on residents and the Red Cross has been drafted in to provide emergency assistance to anyone displaced by the freak weather.
The National Weather Service had earlier issued a tornado warning for the area.
It will now need to confirm whether the storm was officially a tornado, but experts are likening the damage to that typically left in the wake.
Meteorologist Dave Houk told AccuWeather the NWS would likely check the damage to see if it was ‘straight-line thunderstorms that did the damage on the leading edge of strong thunderstorms, or whether there is damage consistent with a tornado’.
Houk said the storm made its way along the west coast of Florida to near the Gulf Coast Tuesday morning before it became more volatile.
‘As those storms progressed eastward into a more volatile atmosphere with deep moisture and high heat, those storms exploded into a cluster of intense thunderstorms that brought numerous reports of wind damage during the early and midday part of the afternoon,’ Houk said.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said on social media the storm left ‘significant damage’ in its wake, with most of the destruction contained to north DeLand.
‘Lots of work ahead as the recovery begins. Thank you for your patience. We’ve been out checking on many residents who were understandably scared, distraught and shocked, but thankfully not injured. We have no reports of injuries or loss of life,’ The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet.
Many residents lost cars which were either overturned or flattened by falling debris, and several homes had their roofs ripped off.
Authorities said they had received multiple reports of people stuck inside their homes and many homes were left without power.
The public was told to keep away from the area Tuesday night while emergency crews continue to work in the area.
In 2007, DeLand and the surrounding area was struck by a major tornado event that killed 21 and injured more than 70.
Three separate tornadoes ripped through the area in a period of just one hour and 17 minutes.
Thousands of homes were destroyed in the tornado outbreak which was the second deadliest on record for the state of Florida.