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Nestor heads into Georgia after tornados leave damage in Florida

Updated October 19, 2019 - 3:00 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Nestor rushed into Georgia on Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone after the former tropical storm spawned a tornado that damaged homes and a school in central Florida but spared an area of the Florida Panhandle devastated one year ago by Hurricane Michael.

The storm made landfall on St. Vincent Island, a nature preserve just off Florida’s northern Gulf Coast in a lightly populated area of the state, the National Hurricane Center said.

Nestor is now expected to bring 1 to 3 inches of rain to inland areas as it moves northeast across Georgia and then heads Sunday into the Carolinas before exiting into the Atlantic Ocean. All tropical storm and surge warnings had been canceled by Saturday afternoon.

The storm, however, spun off at least three tornadoes in Florida as it moved north through the Gulf that caused damage.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said several homes were damaged and Kathleen Middle School had a large section of its roof torn off when the tornado hit late Friday near Lakeland, about an hour’s drive southwest of Orlando.

Photos posted by The Ledger newspaper showed a home with a destroyed roof, downed trees, a large recreational vehicle thrown onto its side and vehicles buried under debris. About 10,000 homes were without power Saturday.

“Thankfully, we have not had any reported serious injuries,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a Saturday statement. “However, there are many people dealing with damage to their homes and property this morning, some of it severe.”

Another suspected tornado in southwest Florida damaged at least a dozen homes in Cape Coral, some severely, the police department said in a statement. No injuries were reported. Another tornado was reported in Pinellas County, producing minor damage at a mobile home park.

In Mexico Beach, where a powerful October 2018 storm nearly wiped out the Panhandle town and left thousands homeless, the mayor said Saturday that Nestor brought some needed rain to a portion of the state suffering from drought, but no damage.

“There have been no issues,” said Mayor Al Cathey, whose city is still recovering. He said the sky Saturday was streaked with blue. “I would call us fortunate.”

The small town of St. Marks, 100 miles east of Mexico Beach, reported storm surge that created shin-high flooding, and a coastal road was washed out.

The state had activated its emergency operations center, but only at its lowest level.

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