The Iona community is beginning to recover from seeing some of the greatest damage in Southwest Florida following this morning’s storm.
WINK News reporter Breana Ross spent most of Sunday along Windcrest Drive in Iona. Currently, these neighbors are still in cleanup mode.
One of the mobile homes along this street is literally folded. Fortunately, everyone and pets living there got out safely.
#BREAK 🌪️ Southwest Florida/Iona tornado rated EF-2. Winds of up to 118 mph when above ground for less than 2 miles. This is our first local EF-2 in 6 years (Cape Coral – 2016). @WINKNews @spann pic.twitter.com/hYTITBmjsF
– Matt Devitt (@MattDevittWINK) January 16, 2022
Edward Murray’s world is now turned upside down. A tornado pulled his house and flipped it onto its roof. His daughter and their dog, Coco, were in the house at the time.
“It’s like a racing train. It was really big, and it took my feet off my feet and blew me away. I believe it was the East Wall, and when I heard the sound, I got up to go find my daughter,” Murray said.
But, Murray believes God is watching him and his family. “God was so good to me, he gave me a little cradle there. I’m in the fetal position with the sink, the fridge, the kitchen chair and the whole pile of rubble on top of me,” Murray said.
The wreckage did not crush Murray, and he was not seriously injured. First responders can contact him quickly. However, his 16-year-old daughter doesn’t go out so easily.
“BILLIONHe swooped in, turned her bed upside down, and she was able to crawl out of the back window,” Murray said.
But by Sunday morning, a family member was still missing. “Unfortunately, we lost our dog. We can’t find our dog, who is Coco. He weighed only 18 pounds, but he was buried underneath that pile of trash,” said Murray emotionally.
Despite the mayhem and debris that littered the streets, neighbors, friends and even strangers rallied together to salvage whatever was left of the rubble and looking for Coco.
Two neighbors later found him at the top of the house, where no one else was looking. Rusty Farst was one of the neighbors who found Coco. “Mike got in and crawled up, looked down and said, get the dog right here! So he went in and delivered it to me, and I took it out and gave it to the people here,” Farst said.
Michael Joffe also helped find Coco. Joffe said: “He was in the middle of the room shaking like a leaf.
Although Edward Murray’s house and life are turned upside down, he still has his daughter and dog. He is still unharmed.
“I told the devil when I looked up and saw that I said today is not the day! You won’t find me and thank God the fire department, EMS and neighbors all made it happen,” Murray said.
Many people worry about what they will do and where they will go because their homes are now uninhabitable. Several neighbors told WINK News they don’t have insurance for their mobile homes, so their future is uncertain.
WINK News reporter Sydney Persing visited Century 21 RV Park also in Iona. After the tornado hit, there was plenty of debris to see. Between ceiling fans slightly dangling from the floor to sheet metal hanging from trees to split doors, there’s a lot to consider after a tornado.
There’s also a lot to hear, which might not be something to expect. There are sounds of tears. “I could lose my home. I don’t want to do that. Hopefully, with God’s grace, I called my insurance company. So maybe it’s okay. I do not know.”
And of course, the shock when people found out many of their belongings were gone. “It was like my worst nightmare. I was stuck here. I couldn’t get out and I didn’t know I was alone and the place was shaking back and forth and I thought I was gone. “
And in some places, there are sounds of relief as people find things that have been saved. Linda Staley takes pictures of her grandchildren. “I took most of them out, they were a little wet,” Staley said.
When Mary and Steve Glowacki hid, they made sure to bring their favorite girl with them. “The ashes of our dog. Yeah, she got in the tub with us,” Glowackies said.
Cathy Ciminero made sure to save anything she could for her late husband. He is the one who has now completely lost a home, a home.
“His funeral blanket,” Ciminero said, crying. “I’m so sorry.”
The sounds of loss were both audible and as devastating as seeing the damage.
However, the fight in the community as they begin to recover is remarkable. Ciminero decided to wipe his tears and keep what he could.
Then she grabbed a sign that said, “Sand will brush. The salt will wash it off. Tans will fade. But the memories last forever.”
And that’s what power sounds like. “I guess it’s going to take a while… .you have to be grateful for what you have, I guess,” Ciminero said.
At Anderson’s Toy Store in Iona, debris flew through the air as the wind blew on Sunday. Trees were also knocked down.
Those who shot the video said it was one of the scariest moments of their lives.
John Anderson owns Anderson’s tackle in Iona. “It looked like… like a flock of birds. When you zoom in on the video, you can actually see if it’s roof pieces and car pieces or whatever,” Anderson said.
The intensity of the tornado in Iona was able to uproot a tree while it remained on the concrete median. Anderson was at his store at the time. “I felt like I was being looked in the eye for a second,” he said.
When that tree fell, John Anderson and his client knew it was time for them to get inside. And the winds just kept getting stronger.
“Oh, those trees! Oh my God! ”
“The tree over there just kept knocking over the flagpole and these things started falling down. And I said we had to get in here,” Anderson said.
You can hear the sheer power of the tornado in the video.
Anderson and his client tried to close the door, but the wind made it challenging. It took them several tries before they were finally able to close.
“I’m trying to keep it that way. Close it and we both start pulling it and I can’t close the latch because the pressure is so much pulling on it. And I’m like I can’t lock it. I can’t lock it,” Anderson said.
John Anderson owns Anderson’s tackle in Iona. “I have been in some scary situations like especially on a boat with bad weather. But it was one of the scariest times I’ve ever had, especially when the door opened, I thought for sure I was flying out with pots and other things,” Anderson said. .
Moments later the tornado passed, and the two opened the door to see the remaining damage. Anderson said: ‘There’s debris on the tree and branches broken from that debris and I’m thinking man if it hit you in the head, it could cut your head off.
There were some trees and planks that fell from the building next door. Anderson says he’s lucky his store suffered minor damage. There used to be an ice machine at this location. But due to strong winds from that tornado, it was lifted off the ground and splashed forty meters into the parking lot. There are also power poles broken in half.
His potted plants weighing more than 150 pounds flew right out the window. And his grocery store lost power for six hours on Sunday.
A family who recently moved to the Iona area lost almost everything when the tornado swept through.
An important and celebratory trailer was crushed and overturned during Sunday’s storm.
Keith Seiter and his family recently moved to Southwest Florida. They drove here from Indiana. And, all of their stuff was packed inside that trailer during that move.
Now, it was destroyed due to a tornado. “I was lying in bed watching the station and saw a tornado warning go out for McGregor and Iona,” Seiter said.
After seeing that, the family alerted the family to check the furniture. “I turned the corner and didn’t see the truck or the trailer. I was like god they pulled it,” Seiter said.
They were then shocked to discover the trailer and its contents were scattered throughout Big Lots’ parking lot.
Seiter said that his breath was taken away. “I was crushed… I was really crushed. My wife was in tears. It just blew us away,” Seiter said.
For them, it’s not just a material loss. “There are so many things that my father and mother left me when they died.. some of what she and her mother left behind when they died .. some were destroyed,” Seiter said.
As he struggled against the tears, Seiter was able to recover a few pieces. Now, he and his wife are hoping for a fresh start.
Water Ln just came out of McGregor Blvd in Iona. In one house, Christmas decorations remain intact. Will Compton lives in a house along Water Ln.
“What a mess…,” said Compton, surveying the damage.
He and his sons were able to at least succeed in the cleanup effort, but Will and Jean could only do so much.
Jean Cowper assisted Compton with the cleanup. “Too much for us to clean up. And it’s like we’re packing things up and moving them to another location. Cowper said.
In fact, life has been turned upside down for most of those living along Water Ln. Pieces of their home literally flew away, and what they thought was going to fly away.
Bob Morrow also lives on Water Ln. “We thought for sure that this was not going to happen here,” said Morrow.
You see, Morrow loves his big parrot. “The parrot is at an amusement park in Marble Head, Ohio. It was put up there in 1959. I bought the parrot,” said Morrow.
And, although he says he will never forget January 16, 2022, he knows things could get much worse. “He endured this and the storm, so he could be here forever,” Morrow said.
“We thought he was going to be in the neighborhood somewhere,” Morrow said. “We thought he would fly away for sure this time.”
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https://www.winknews.com/2022/01/16/ef2-tornado-touches-down-in-iona-damage-across-lee-county/ Tornado EF2 touches down in Iona