Polk County man survives EF-2 tornado, home destroyed

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side spoke with a Polk County man who survived the EF2 tornado late Friday night. Bill Wright’s home was destroyed.

“We didn’t have time to do anything,” Wright said.

The National Weather Service confirms an EF2 tornado touched down at approximately 11 p.m. Friday. Polk County officials say at least 50 homes sustained some damage. The tornado had estimated wind speeds of 120 miles per hour.

Wright said he was in bed with his wife when they heard a rumble. There was no time to take cover in the bathroom.

“We’re lucky,” he said. “Real lucky.”

The wind ripped off the Wright’s roof. Mr. Wright was pinned under the dresser.

The entire incident occurred within seconds, he said. Miraculously, the couple and their two dogs were able to walk away.

The Wright’s are grateful at the community’s support.

“Amazing people,” he said. “Half of these people, I don’t even know.”

Kathy Phillips was inside the Mt. Tabor Baptist Church when the storm suddenly hit.

“It sounded like a freight train,” she said.

“I had no idea that the damage that was going on around us was this extensive,” she said.

Pastor Matt Gilmore said the church’s main building sustained minor damage. However, the food bank that fed more than two hundred people each week is gone.

“Lives are more important,” he said.

Pastor Gilmore is working to bring the food bank back as soon as possible.

“I’m blessed there wasn’t any more damaged than it was,” he said. “I’m most thankful that there was no loss of life.”

Meantime, law enforcement is concerned about potential looting.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had a warning for anyone looking for trouble.

“Stay away unless you’re here to help,” said Sheriff Judd.

Polk County officials expect to survey the damage from the air on Sunday.

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