Storm survivor: ‘The wife was screaming, the dog was screaming’

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TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

FORT WALTON BEACH — John Velez said the major storm damage his residence received this morning symbolizes “the dangers of living in paradise.

“When it hits, it hits hard,” he said of Sunshine State storms.

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Velez’s rented house at 229 Beachview Drive in the Garnier Beach neighborhood was one of the properties hardest hit by a probable tornado that roared through the area. The subdivision is just north of Cinco Bayou and east of Eglin Parkway.

The roof over Velez’s back patio blew off and was carried across the street, where it landed in the front yard of Mark Dauzat’s property. Velez recalled hearing roaring winds and seeing the roof peel off and fly away. He said he also saw tall trees fall down and debris and tree branches being tossed around.

The storm also tore away large sections of the roof on Velez’s house. Later in the morning, rainwater continued to leak steadily onto fallen ceiling parts and insulation in two interior rooms.

Across the street, Dauzat motioned to his boarded-up bedroom window, where the storm blew out the glass.

“The wife was screaming, the dog was screaming” when the storm system hit, Dauzat said. However, “I got (the force of the storm) a lot less than John.”

Velez’s next-door neighbor, April Walczak, said she had seen what looked like a “big cloud” blast in over Cinco Bayou and come ashore at her and her neighbor’s back yards. She said powerful winds ripped away the Bimini top from her boat, damaged some of her home’s roof shingles and a portion of the roof’s ridge vent and knocked down sections of her wood fence.

“It was quick, it was fierce and then it was done,” Walczak said of the storm.

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