Neighbors assess damage caused by Christmas Eve storms

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – It was an unhappy Christmas morning for hundreds of families in Northeast Florida who woke up without power after storms swept the area on Thursday night, leaving a trail of felled trees and transmission lines and damage to people’s property.

Neighbors were taking stock of their surroundings and picking up parts early Friday morning, while utility teams assessed the damage and worked to restore power to homes and businesses affected by outages across Jacksonville and its neighboring counties.

Some of the most significant damage can be found in the Nature’s Walk subdivision in the Mandarin neighborhood, where a tree fell on the roof of a home. The owner of the house, Rick Blyar, said he was inside when the wind picked up, making him run for cover.


RELATED: Damage and power outages reported after Christmas Eve storms

“It looked like a tornado,” he recalled. “So, I went to a bathtub. Then it seemed to die. I left and at the same time that I was leaving, my neighbors were leaving to find out what was going on and we saw it. “

With that, Blyar was referring to the huge tree trunk resting on its roof. He said the winds were so strong that he never heard the collision. Fortunately for him, the damage was minimal, as the uprooted tree landed on a support beam, which absorbed most of the impact.

His home was not the only victim. Not far away, another tree fell in a trailer, although there was no one inside. Damage reports spread around the area filtered in the News4Jax newsroom as the storms subsided, including a video clip showing what appeared to be a transformer on fire along Claire Lane.

Across town, in the Dinsmore neighborhood, strong winds destroyed Deborah Dempsey’s backyard, knocked over a nearby fence, and raised the top of her neighbor’s chimney. His home was one of three in the Waterbrook Falls subdivision with visible damage from the storm.

Storm damage in the Dinsmore neighborhood.

Dempsey told News4Jax that he was preparing dinner for his family when hell started. She is grateful that no one was hurt.

“We heard a hissing sound,” she said. “And after a while, glass and everything started to splash and the water came in here and destroyed everything outside. We didn’t know if it was over or what, because it all happened so fast. “

Further inland, Columbia County residents also felt the fury of the storms. Jerry Norenberg was about to sit down to eat with his roommates in Lake City when Christmas Eve dinner was interrupted by what looked like a vehicle coming into his home. It was not a car, but a tree.

“I took a step out of the kitchen and the next thing you know, it looked like a car passed by the house,” said Norenberg. “It shook me, I turned around and realized that there was a tree going through the house.”

Norenberg said he and his roommates had to leave immediately. They saved what they could, but made plans to stay with friends until they found out what to do next.

Photo shared by Jerry N.
Photo shared by Jerry N.

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