Governor visits tornado victims in north Cape with city officials
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist made an unexpected visit Monday to victims of an unexpected tornado, which passed through a north Cape Coral neighborhood Sunday evening.
The tornado caused various damages to 23 homes in the northwest Cape, some of those along Northwest Third Avenue, where a car had been flipped upright against the side of a home when the storm passed through at about 4:42 p.m.
Crist, along with Cape Coral Mayor Jim Burch, City Manager Terry Stewart, Councilmember Tim Day and Fire Chief Bill Van Helden, among others, visited several of the homes on Northwest Third Avenue Monday afternoon.
“This thing came out of nowhere,” Crist said of tropical storm Claudette, which is said to have influenced the tornadic nature of Sunday evening’s storm.
“We are definitely in the season. We need to be prepared, we need to be careful, and we need to be ready because there’s a couple more storms in the Atlantic. As we learned this past weekend, in a 24-hour period all of a sudden we have a tropical storm in our backyard,” he said. “I feel sorry for the people that have to deal with this kind of damage. It’s incredible, thank God, that there was no loss of life.”
The city of Cape Coral estimates damages to 11 of the most badly damaged homes at approximately $103,000.
Crist walked across the driveways of homes with freshly laid tarps patching their roofs, boarded up windows that had shattered and bent trees
“I kept telling my dad I saw a tornado,” Michael Reis, 12, told Crist as they spoke in Reis’ front yard.
“I was kind of surprised,” Michael’s father, Carlos Reis, said of Crist knocking on his door. “I think it’s a good thing, but obviously that was kind of a surprise for everybody, a tornado in Florida.”
“I think it’s good that he’s checking things out,” said resident Robert Binder of Crist’s visit.
Binder’s home received roof, well and window damage from the storm. Binder said he would fix the well system himself, and would assess other damages in the days to come.
Burch said he was also thankful for Crist’s visit.
“It’s always good to have the state level leaders come down and be involved in our affairs,” he said. “We certainly have to thank him.”
The city does not anticipate state aid regarding damage from the weather event, Burch said.
“If the governor thinks there’s something he can do, certainly we’ll be all ears,” he said.
Another tornado in recent memory passed through south Cape Coral June 13, 2008, damaging several homes along Pelican Boulevard and Gleason Parkway. There were no reported injuries or deaths as a result of that storm.
According to a report by Associated Press writer Melissa Nelson, tropical storm Claudette made landfall near Fort Walton Beach Monday morning with maximum sustained winds at about 50 miles per hour.
The storm, Nelson reported, was expected to bring in 3 to 6 inches of rain with “isolated areas getting up to 10 inches along the Panhandle, the Big Bend region, central and southern Alabama and southwestern Georgia … “
The storm is expected to weaken as it travels into southern Alabama, the report states.
“We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Crist said Monday of the remainder of hurricane season.