Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order Thursday, authorizing an emergency declaration for Columbia County and Lake City in the wake of devastating tornadoes that struck the area earlier this month.
On March 7, a line of fast-moving thunderstorms produced high winds, heavy rains and tornadoes across north Florida prompting the National Weather Service to issue a series of tornado warnings.
According to NWS reports an EF-2 tornado (113-135 mph winds) tore a three-mile swath through Lake City’s northern section in Columbia County, knocking out power to more than 5,000 homes. The tornado moved along State Road 100, causing a tree to fall on a mobile home, killing a 62-year old woman.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Columbia County officials and officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration toured the area and reported that 33 homes were destroyed and 21 suffered major damage.
The assessment team also confirmed six businesses sustained major damage resulting in more than $3 million in property losses, exceeding the local government’s capability to deal with the catastrophe based on resource availability.
Crist designated FDEM Director, Craig Fugate, as the coordinating officer for the duration of the 60-day disaster declaration and directed the Department of Community Affairs and the state Housing Finance Corp. to waive all requirements for the provision of any available housing recovery programs.
Source: Office of the Governor of Florida
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