[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 16:03 GMT
Eyewitness: Florida tornadoes
Florida truck driver Jim Minich lives in the town of Belleview, close to the area of Lake County badly affected by tornadoes. He told the BBC about a visit to the worst-hit area, the town of Lady Lake, to help his son cope with the aftermath of Friday's storms.

A tree lies on top of a crumpled house in Lady Lake, Florida
The force of the storms tore strong trees straight out of the ground
In Belleview there was no damage, but the storms passed within a quarter of a mile of my son's house, and it's a miracle his property was not more badly damaged.

I've been involved in relief efforts before, and I can say for sure that the destruction on the ground in Lady Lake at the moment is disastrous. If you imagine for yourself an active war zone, that would be the situation.

When you look at the expressions on people's faces impacted by the storms you can see they are devastated, bewildered, confused. It's clear that they don't know what to do.

They have lost everything. There was a church, built to withstand 150mph winds. Now it's completely gone. A mobile home park is nothing but a pile of rubble. You cannot recognise it.

There are still people missing, and there are still people searching
Jim Minich

Trees have been torn up and uprooted, and others that were not growing there have been brought in and dumped on top of them. Power lines are down.

There was a trailer filled with oranges - it weighed maybe 20,000lb (9,100kg) of trailer, and 55,000lb (25,000kg) of oranges. These storms picked it up and tossed it about and made all the oranges spill out.

Trees with a bough expanse of 150ft (46m) have been torn straight out of the ground.

These were strong storms.

I'm not sure where those people who have lost their homes are being housed. I would imagine that some churches opened their doors last night and that people in the community opened their homes.

But it isn't over yet. There are still people missing, and there are still people searching.

I'm trying not to overstress the situation. But you have to be there to observe the scale of the devastation.



SEE ALSO
Florida struck by deadly tornado
02 Feb 07 |  Americas
Bush shelters amid tornado alert
29 Dec 06 |  Americas
Seven die as tornado hits US town
16 Nov 06 |  Americas
How a tornado is formed
08 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Violent US storms leave 12 dead
08 Apr 06 |  Americas

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific