Residents react to tornado: 'I'm very happy to be alive' | Weather

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Residents react to tornado: 'I'm very happy to be alive'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cleanup efforts are underway in the Arlington area after a tornado struck late Thursday afternoon.

The National Weather Service confirms it was an EF2 twister with unconfirmed winds of around 100 miles per hour.

At least one person suffered minor injuries from falling debris, but between 15 and 20 buildings are reportedly damaged.

A lot of the damage is at Shadowood Apartments near the corner of Derringer and Monument roads.

Arlington resident Frank Nosalek said, "It was just a very intense storm."

"It got really still, then all of a sudden the rain got really, really hard, and we went inside," said Arlington resident Roger Willis.

Arlington resident Sandra Beaver said the tornado was like " ... a noise I never heard before. It was whistling."

Willis' daughter, Katie, added, "I was really scared. Never had to deal with anything like that."

Beaver's son, Dashawn, was on the couch when the storm moved through.

He said he barely escaped with his life.

"It happened so quickly. The roof came in. I was hit by a piece of plywood, which is on the ground, and I hopped up immediately and the roof started coming completely in," he described while admitting he is very much still rattled by the close call.

"I'm very happy to be alive," he added.

Arlington resident John Moore said he wasn't home when the storm hit, but raced through it to get to his little girl.

"I just wanted to make sure my daughter was OK because she was home by herself," he said.

Overall, most people in the path of destruction feel very lucky the damage isn't worse.

Duval County does not have very many tornado sirens, and this particular tornado struck during afternoon rush hour.

"I never expected that when I would get home to my neighborhood that I would see trees down and fences blown around," Nosalek said.

Now that the attention is on cleaning up debris, the hope is life in Arlington gets back to normal as soon as possible.

But victims like Beaver know it's going to be an uphill battle.

"Everything is destroyed in there," she said outside her house while looking at the two trees on top of it.


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