WEST ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.—Friday afternoon, WESH 2 News confirmed from the National Weather Service that an EF-0 tornado ripped through the Hamlin area of Winter Garden. They’re calling it, "The Hamlin Groves Tornado."
Orange County work crews cleared fallen trees that, for a time, blocked Porter Road. Residents who live nearby said they had little doubt that it was a tornado they heard roaring through the area during Thursday night's tornado warning around 9 p.m.
“We definitely heard something that sounded like a freight train,” said Hamlin resident Lou Ferraro, whose home sits about a quarter-mile from dozens of fallen trees. "We started trying to take cover."
About that time, Ferraro said his four children’s iPhones started alerting to the bad weather. The family moved to the area from Connecticut a year ago.
"We’re used to having basements when this kind of thing happens. So our first reaction was to head for the basement," he said.
When the family realized their new home does not have a basement, they scrambled for a cluttered hallway closet. About the time Ferraro said his son had dragged everything out so the family could get in, the roaring sound had passed.
WESH 2 NEWS | Tornado confirmed in damaged area of West Orange County
Further to the east, work crews with chainsaws worked to clear sizeable trees that fell in the golf course community of Keene’s Pointe.
In nearby Windermere, police Chief Dave Ogden alerted his officers after the tornado warning went out. He said they were happy to find minimal damage after the storm passed.
“We had a limb fall on a power line and spark a small fire,” he said. “That was about it.”
By daybreak, Ferraro said he took a drive to the damaged area along Porter Road about a quarter-mile from his home.
“It made me realize how close we were to the destruction and made me so glad it wasn't worse than that,” he said.