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Tornado Touches Down in Polk County, Damages Kathleen Middle School and Residential Homes

Kathleen Middle School lost part of its roof in the storm. Photo: Polk County Emergency Management Facebook
Kathleen Middle School lost part of its roof in the storm. Photo: Polk County Emergency Management Facebook

A tornado with winds as high as 120 mph hit Polk County over the weekend. The EF-2 storm generated by Tropical Storm Nestor touched down at Lakeland Linder International Airport on Friday night.

The storm damaged Kathleen Middle School and homes in the Kathleen area. Classes have been canceled through Tuesday October 22.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says it was a miracle there were no serious injuries. 

“And I want you think about this. Last night you went to bed safe and secure. Then all of a sudden your house vaporizes around you when you’re in bed. That’s what happened to one family. And they weren’t injured other than some bumps and bruises. It's a miracle.”

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Polk County Emergency Manager Paul Womble says the 120 mph winds caused damage to about 50 buildings including residential homes.

"We’ve got houses that are just completely flattened. And we’ve got some other ones where the damage is significant and then some minor cosmetic damage. Some of the damage we saw earlier in the city of Lakeland had glass windows just completely blown out of the back side of a house. So it's a wide spectrum."

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The National Weather Service in Tampa also confirmed an EF-0 tornado in Seminole County and an EF-1 tornado in Cape Coral.

No injuries were reported from either of these storms.
If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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