Lakeland couple loses everything after tornado shreds home

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – They lost everything in a matter of seconds. Everything they had worked for after 25 years – gone in an instant.

For Janet Estridge and her husband, Willie, life on Timberlake Road East was wonderful. They enjoyed their quiet, sprawling neighborhood in Lakeland.

Then, came Friday night, and everything changed.

An EF-2 tornado came ripping through the region, taking aim in particular, on their road where the couple, along with their neighbors, took cover late Friday night.

It took less than ten seconds. Their home was destroyed, torn apart and shredded by mother nature’s fury.

With tears in her eyes, Janet began to cry.

Her home was gone. her life’s work, her safe haven. Her eyes welled, as her voice broke, explaining how she felt. “This is just unreal.”

The sound the tornado made is something she and her husband will never forget.

“It was raining cats and dogs, so loud. All the doors in the house were banging and clanging, and swirling and opening, and I heard psssst, this sound. You know the sound a sword makes? That whistle noise? That’s what it did when I heard it,” Janet recalled.

And, what they saw was something straight out of the Wizard of Oz.

“There were things swirling through the air. you know, you could see things swirling through the air,” she told 8 on Your Side.

The roof of their Lakeland home now has a bright blue tarp on it.

Janet says the tornado tore back the entire roof like a can opener, ripping everything out of their house as they watched their belongings swirl through the funnel cloud.

The windows are now covered in boards. Janet points out their bedroom, where just moments before, the two of them were.

In the end, this couple is trying to stay positive. While they may have lost all they have, they still have each other.

Family, they tell us, is everything along with faith and gratitude.

“You’ve heard the saying, you’re going to Disneyworld? Well, we’re not going to Disneyworld, we’re going on a cruise,” she said, wiping away the tears and smiling. “That’s what our plans are when all this is over!”

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