ORLANDO, Fla.  Many people felt the impact of the strong winds and storms as it marched through Central Florida on Thursday morning, leaving some homes and property damaged. 

Today, a team from the National Weather Survey is surveying damage from the storms to see if there was a tornado touchdown.

Many areas were without power and homes and property were mangled by the storms that raced across the various counties.

'Significant' Damage At Central Florida Zoo; Officials Say Animals Are Safe

The animals and staff of the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens are safe, however, trees and property are damaged, according to the zoo. 

"We experienced significant damage from what is believed to be a tornado that moved through zoo property early this morning," according to Stephanie Williams, the director of the zoo, in a statement.

Williams stated that most of the damage was done to the trees near the zoo's entrance, however, animal habitats and exhibits were not damaged.

While the zoo will be open during normal business hours for Thursday, the Seminole Aerial Adventures and the Little Florida Coastline train are closed due to debris, which needs to be removed and a damage assessment is done.

Storms Damage At Least 8 Structures Near Mascotte, Groveland

What is left behind in Mascotte after severe storms on Thursday morning are downed power wires, parts of roofing and fallen trees.

Neighbors are picking up the pieces after strong storms rolled through Central Florida, leaving behind a trail of damage.

"I knew it was loud, but after the last hurricane we had go through, it didn't phase me too much but now seeing all this it really does," said Mascotte neighbor Becky Kidwell.

Kidwell and other neighbors woke up to the destruction along Tuscanooga Road, which is shut down as bucket trucks hoist workers high into the air to repair downed power lines.

"There's houses with branches, big trees, broken down there. Lots of roof damage, pieces of houses all through the church yard, fences down," she pointed out. 

Eight structures are damaged, with levels ranging from minor to unlivable. For example, a house on Tuscanooga Road moved 20 feet off its foundation.

The home belongs to a retired pastor, but he and his wife made it out alive, which Lake County Fire Department Chief Jim Dickerson said he was "amazed" that the 87-year-old man made it out OK.

"Fortunately, I think the weather's over for now, it's dry. So it gives them a few days to recover," he said. 

There are no reported injuries in Mascotte.

Weather experts will survey the area Friday to determine if the town was hit by a tornado or not.

— Julie Gargotta

Mascotte resident Jim Madison's said his roof was blown off. He was inside with his wife when the storm hit.

“We can handle the things but can’t replace people,” Madison said.

The cleanup process began in the small community Thursday. Blue tarps now covering roofs. But during a tough time a community continues to say positive.

“Our small community has a lot of love. We have a lot of family connections when somebody is need they all come to rescue,” said Pastor Casey Ferguson.

The American Red Cross is also providing assistance. 

— Matt Fernandez

Brevard County Damage

Strong winds plowed through a beachside tennis club Thursday morning, ripping down parts of the courts and frightening staff at the Kiwi Tennis Club on South Patrick Drive in Indian Harbour Beach.

The heavy winds and rain rushed through in the early morning, leaving lots of damage behind.

"I saw this wind coming very bad," said employee Jean Pierre, who was just getting his day started doing maintenance work at the Kiwi Tennis Club, when the steady rain and wind got much, much more intense.

Pierre took cover inside a work shed, until the storm passed. When he came back out, he saw what happened: Most of the 13 tennis courts had some type of damage, and dozens of fences were down, poles bent, canopies ripped apart, and furniture broken to pieces.

"I thought I was coming into a rainy day today; instead it was this tremendous amount of damage," said general manager Anne Stroman.

The wind also toppled a tree in the townhome community behind the club. It also damaged an irrigation pump that was spewing well-water for most of the day.

—  Greg Pallone

Thursday's Central Florida Forecast

A strong line of storms moved through Central Florida early Thursday as a cold front approached. Strong wind and heavy rain accompanied these storms.

The rain moved out before lunch and we started to clear some clouds for the afternoon. Temperatures reached to around 70 degrees, but will be falling as winds switch to the north. It will be dry, but cool, to end the week.

Clouds will continue to decrease overnight, allowing for us to wake up to plenty of sunshine Friday morning. It will be chilly, however, with lows in the mid to low 40s. Some of our northern spots will drop into the 30s.

After the chilly start Friday, temperatures are not expected to warm up much for the afternoon. We’ll see lots of sunshine, but breezy wind out of the north with only allow for highs to climb into the upper 50s to low 60s.

We’ll stay unseasonably cool this weekend with temperatures staying in the 60s. There is a slight chance for a few showers early next week, but the chance is low at this time.

Beach and Surf Forecast

Ocean conditions will continue to be hazardous Friday with a decent chop and an elevated rip current risk. A Small Craft Caution is in effect.


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