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Gov. Ron DeSantis declares a state of emergency after tornadoes hit North Florida

Downed branches blocking the road next to a tall gray building.
Tristan Wood
/
WFSU
Downed branches blocking the road next to the Supreme Court of Florida.

Thunderstorms and at least 3 confirmed tornados barreled through Tallahassee early Friday morning, resulting in at least one local death and leaving more than 80-thousand people without power. The county’s emergency management director is viewing this as a test-run for the upcoming hurricane season.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 12 counties including Leon after Thunderstorms barreled through Tallahassee early Friday morning, resulting in at least one local death and leaving many without power. The county’s emergency management director is viewing this as a test-run for the upcoming hurricane season.

The National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office had to shelter in place early Friday morning. Meteorologist Mark Wool said storm assessments will be ongoing for the next two days.

“There was widespread straight line wind damage," he said. "And there will be a few areas that ultimately will get assessed as tornadic, based on what we saw on radar before the radar went out.”

Cleanup is underway across the city and county where the storms tore off rooftops, twisted and mangled trees and sent construction equipment flying. Branches, leaves, and other debris littered the ground, as cars attempted to weave their way through downed limbs, and power lines, and intersections gone dark. Leon Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters said crews are working to clear it all.

“This was a countywide impact, so there are roads east to west, north to south," Peters said. "So it is going to take them a little bit of time. I encourage anybody that may be out and about to drive with caution.”

Peters said the storm should serve as a reminder of how to be prepared for emergency situations and natural disasters.

“I think today’s storm highlights the importance of preparedness," he said. "I know a lot of times we think about getting prepared for hurricane season, which is coming. Just making sure that all year long our residents have an emergency plan, know what you’re going to do during a disaster or an emergency.”

Officials are urging citizens to be aware of traffic rules during and after storms. An intersection with a broken stoplight should be treated as a four-way stop. Any downed electrical wires should be treated as if they are live. The city has called in other utilities to help with restoration efforts, and are saying it will likely be days before most of the lights come back on.

Copyright 2024 WFSU

Casey Chapter is a freshman at Florida State University studying Digital Media Production and Literature, Media & Culture. She is a staff writer and photographer for the FSView & Florida Flambeau, an intern for WFSU Public Media, and a dog lover. After graduation, she plans to work in journalism.