Tornado damage in parts of SW Ocala, Marion County

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Posted March 12, 2022 | By Jennifer Hunt Murty

Strong early morning storms and at least one tornado brought severe damage to some areas of Southwest Ocala and Marion County on Saturday.

Ocala Police Department officials said they did not have any reports of personal injury. The damage to buildings, however, was evident at locations such as the Paddock Park Animal Care Center at 3931 SE 42nd St., Ocala.

Workers there said staffers were inside the building when “just out of nowhere” a storm hit that badly damaged the roof of the center.

“All the animals are okay, the fire department just wants to shut off the electric because of structural damage so we just have to call everyone to pick up their animals,” said Sarah Ross, an employee of the Paddock Park Animal Care Center.

According to Ross, there were 40 animals inside the center at the time, and that all of them were fine over the course of the 10 to 15 minutes that the storm pummeled the building. They said there was no early warning alert.

Ross indicated the center was trying to contact all the pet owners to come retrieve their pets since the building had no electricity and a good portion of roof damage.

Big blocks of styrofoam were scattered all around the area and it was not immediately clear which roof they came from. Although, there was visible damage to the roofs of the Sullivan GMC and Cadillac dealerships nearby.

In the nearby Country Oaks and Saddlewood neighborhoods, neighbors were out accessing the damage.

Lisa Asher, who lives in the Saddlewood neighborhood, had blown out windows and her white PVC fence was completely “pulled out” of the ground by the storm and scattered like toothpicks across the neighborhood.

Asher said she had just pulled up to her house around 8 a.m. this morning after a trip to Walmart and was in the middle of unloading her vehicle of groceries with her children through the garage door when it started downpouring and they quickly closed the garage and stepped into the house when windows started shattering. Asher says it felt like only “two or three minutes” and then it was over.

Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Clint Welborn, while assessing damage in the Saddlewood neighborhood indicated they were trying to figure out the path of the tornado so that they could assess for down power lines.  Welborn said the damage was worst in Saddleworth and El Dorado neighborhoods. He also said they had not received any reports of human injury.

The area of highway 200 around Sam’s and the Paddock Park Animal Care Center was closed for hours, not just due to storm damage, but a nearby accident on I-75 where the Marion County Sheriff’s Office reported “several overturned semi-trucks.”

See more photos using this link.

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