NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — It's been almost one week since an EF-2 tornado rocked parts of Palm Beach County, and people are continuing to pick up the pieces.
The path of the tornado on Saturday extended over two and a half miles, starting as an EF-0 tornado near I-95 and then extending to an EF-2 a short time later. The tornado had wind speeds of up to 130 mph, according to a report from the National Weather Service Miami (NWS Miami).
CBS12’s Dani Travis went back to three of the worst hit places; the Sanctuary Cover Apartments, Sandalwood Estates, and the North Palm Beach Community Center.
It's been almost one week since an EF-2 tornado rocked parts of Palm Beach County, and people are continuing to pick up the pieces. (WPEC)
Sealed up apartment windows, smashed in cars, ripped up roofs, and uprooted ground, are all signs of damage that still remain from the EF-2 tornado that hit the North Palm Beach area six days ago.
"It looked pretty bad when you first stepped on scene, like woah what just happened. Literally like an earthquake or a bomb went off,” Zak Sherman, North Palm Beach Parks & Rec Director of Leisure Services, said.
"It was not like a hurricane; it was fast and furious,” Susanne Girouard, Sandalwood Estates resident, said.
The American Red Cross Palm Beach County chapter jumped into immediate action.
“We really focus on families that have major damage or their homes are completely destroyed. We’re very lucky in this situation that there weren’t that many homes that met that requirement,” Eric Roby, American Red Cross Palm Beach Executive Director, said.
At this time, the Red Cross is assisting about a half dozen families whose homes met those requirements.
"There’s a lot of cosmetic damage, a lot of trees down, broken windows, but a lot of the homes that were damaged are still livable,” said Roby.
Cosmetic damage has forced the North Palm Beach Community Center to remain closed since the storm.
“The thing that stands out the most is all the trees, but the most costly damage is obviously going to be to the field, the field lights,” said Sherman.
A costly price guessed to be more than $200,000 in damages, but manageable with the help of insurance. Minutes away, Sandalwood Estates Resident Susanne Girouard says the cleanup process over the past week has been better than expected.
“FPL was great. I don’t know how many tree people we have here. Unfortunately, we had to remove a lot, but it’s been excellent,” said Girouard. “Everyone’s come and done everything great. I mean, it’s amazing.”
And clean-up workers at many of these hard-hit locations agree.
“Things are looking great right now. When you first drive in, it looks like the trees got a nice haircut,” said Sherman. “Everyone’s pitched in, everyone’s helped.”
A community left picking up the pieces 6 days later, just thankful it wasn't worse.
“This tornado is the perfect example as to why the Red Cross recommends that you are prepared for a disaster 365 days out of the year. It’s not just storm season that we’re accustomed to here in South Florida,” said Roby.
Red Cross says you can be disaster prepared by having a plan, practicing that plan, make sure you know who to communicate with and where to meet up, and make sure you have at least three days’ worth of emergency supplies foe your entire family.
The North Palm Beach Community Center is set to re-open to the public Saturday.