CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — The neighbors along Eldorado Avenue had dealt with storms before. Hurricane Idalia was a little more than a month ago, and they weathered that storm surge. But Thursday morning’s tornado was different.
“The alarms went off on the TV and so then I stepped outside of my back patio to look and saw strong winds, a roar,” Stewart Sagastume said. “At first I didn’t think there was a tornado going over, but shortly after, the winds picked up and I saw a power pole just break out into big sparks everywhere.”
Sagastume lives a couple blocks down from the tornado’s destructive path.
“It certainly is upsetting,” Sagastume said. “We’re used to the storm surge, but a tornado? This is the first for me. I’ve been here six years.”
The Carlouel Beach and Yacht Club has been here longer — and it took more of a hit.
“Well, we just went through the hurricane, how bad could it be?” Mark Carter said. “And it’s worse.”
Carter is the general manager of the local club.
“All the fencing around the tennis courts is gone,” Carter said. “We did lose some furniture, we’ve got dining furniture around our pool.”
Carter said he was called around 2:30 a.m., alerting him about the tornado. He was at the club by 4:30 a.m. scoping it out.
“Luckily, a lot of the trees that are down did not fall on the building,” Carter said. “So it could have been worse.”
Many of the club’s employees showed up to help clean in the morning, dodging rain and tornado warnings.
“It was very nice to see the employees of Carlouel, which is family,” Carter said. “To come out and say, ‘Hey, I’m here to help, let’s get this back to normal and get it back open.'”
Carter said he plans on opening the club back up on Friday for lunch and dinner service, even if they’re still cleaning up here and there.
By the end of the afternoon on Thursday, power had been restored to much of the street, including the Carlouel, but some houses still have a long way to go before they are livable again.