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Major damage reported across Jacksonville as Tropical Storm Elsa spawns tornado, wind damage

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning in Jacksonville at 4:34 p.m. At least some part of the city was under a tornado warning until 5:30 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Tropical Storm Elsa brought widespread damage to Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon and evening, including causing the death of at least one person when a tree fell on his car in the Ortega area.

So far, there are no reports of any other injuries in Jacksonville.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado struck part of Southside Jacksonville.

Thursday morning, a storm survey team in Duval County preliminarily assigned an EF-1 rating to the tornado that moved across Philips Highway just west of I-95 Wednesday afternoon. That means the tornado's winds were between 86 and 110 miles per hour.

RELATED: List: 3 confirmed tornados on the First Coast in the wake of Tropical Storm Elsa

Most of the damage surveyed thus far has been along Bowendale Avenue. More information will follow as the survey continues its progress.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning in Jacksonville at 4:34 p.m. At least some part of the city was under a tornado warning until 5:30 p.m. when all warnings in the area expired.

RELATED: Live Blog: Impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa being felt across the First Coast with downed trees, rising waters

It appears the damage path started in the San Jose area and continued to the Phillips Highway area.

In San Jose, there were several trees reported down, including a large magnolia tree that had stood for 60 years. One neighbor also reported someone's patio furniture ended up in her backyard.

San Jose resident Maria Pollard said hearing the trees crashing to the ground is a sound she will not soon forget.

"I'm shocked. I can't believe this really happened," Pollard said. "It's so fast and so much damage. It's so much damage, and it looks so violent. The trees look they were weeds being ripped out of the ground."

There are multiple reports of tornado damage along Bowden Road and Phillips Highway in Southside Jacksonville as well, including damaged buildings, downed power lines and fallen trees.

"Weather is unpredictable," Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during a press conference at 8 p.m. "It looked calm this morning. It looked calm this afternoon. Our message was to try to stay out of the streets, try to be safe, try to be careful."

Phillips Highway between Butler Boulevard and Bowden Road is closed due to downed wires. Officials did not say when the road would reopen.

A commercial building was damaged from the storm. Authorities say they are helping the business to get state and federal money.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office urged people to avoid that area if possible as crews worked to clear the roads of debris and damage.

"I do want to remind everybody that there are a lot of downed trees and downed power lines right now, so stay out of the debris fields," JFRD Chief Keith Powers said. "We don't need any other injuries or fatalities from this storm that's come through tonight."

Jay Stowe, CEO of JEA, said crews will continue to work through the night to clear any downed powerlines in the city. However, he did not have an estimated time when all powerlines would be cleared.

"We also have crews looking at our water and wastewater systems to keep that up and running as well," Stowe said. "We hope and encourage you to stay safe and make good decisions."

"I think the key is to be patient," Mayor Curry added. "If you see a downed powerline, don't get near it. Don't touch it. Call it in. If you see debris in the road, don't drive into it. If you see water in the road, don't drive through it."

A First Coast News viewer tweeted out a video of possible tornado damage to The Park At Avellino Apartment Homes on Baymeadows Road. 

Officials also confirmed damage to Pinebrook Apartments on Powers Avenue.

"We started hearing some noise, and then the wind picked up really fast," David Rothermill, a Pinebrook resident, told First Coast News. "Next thing I knew, the tree came down. I heard a train, and they say you always hear a train. I heard the train."

The Red Cross is assisting people who were displaced by the damage to the complex.

At least one person is confirmed dead after a tree fell onto two cars on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Ortega area.

RELATED: At least 1 dead after tree falls on two cars on Roosevelt Blvd.

"My prayers and thoughts to the family," Mayor Curry said. "It's a terrible situation that happened." 

At the height of the storm, between 14,000 and 15,000 people were without power in Jacksonville. That number was reduced to around 11,000 as of 8 p.m., according to JEA.

As of midnight, just over 3,200 JEA custoemrs were witout power, according to the outage map. 

RELATED: Tracking power outages in Northeast Florida, Southeast Georgia during Tropical Storm Elsa

Other areas of the city were hit by heavy rain, raising flooding concerns in flood-prone areas.

One area that saw major flooding was along McCoy's Creek, where high waters swallowed up roads. First Coast News' Josslyn Howard reported in the evening the flood had a current along with it.

The JFRD rescued someone who was trapped in a vehicle a could not swim. The person was successfully rescued without injury.

The Florida Highway Patrol announced that I-295 east beltway at I-95 north end was closed due to high water. Traffic is being diverted on US 17. First Coast News has not gotten word as of 12 a.m. that the road has reopened.

Some people in the city also spotted a waterspout on the St. Johns River earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Curry urged people to go to JaxReady.com to report storm damage as well as call 630-CITY for any non-emergency storm-related situation.

With the storm being so early in the year, Mayor Curry said it is an important time to be prepared for hurricane season.

"You never know what's going to happen," Curry said. "Know your [evacuation] zone. You do not want to be in a situation where we're calling for an evacuation, and you are scrambling to know your zone."

Curry also reminded people it's important to have their hurricane kits ready if they do not already.

Jacksonville was not the only place in the First Coast region that saw a tornado from Tropical Storm Elsa. An EF-0 tornado struck in Columbia County. No one has been reported injured from that storm.

First Coast News will continue to update this story as we receive more damage reports.

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