HOLT, Fla., March 18, 2022—Today’s severe storms spawned a tornado that caused damage to homes and downed trees and power lines here.
According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, no injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 11:56 a.m. for a radar-indicated tornado west of East Milton. The storm cell was headed due east along the Interstate 10 corridor.
About 35 minutes later, it was confirmed that a tornado was on the ground in Holt, south of I-10.
The Log Lake Road area felt the brunt of the storm with several homes damaged on Sundance Way, along with downed trees and power lines.
As a result, Sundance Way was closed for a period of time as Holt Fire District, Baker Fire District, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and Okaloosa County EMS worked the scene. Representatives from Okaloosa County drove the Log Lake/Sundance area assessing damage.
Holt Fire Deputy Chief Joe Kersey and Holt resident Leo Derrick immediately responded to a Log Lake Road home where it was reported a mother and four children were at home when the tornado hit.
They were fine, but a tree crashed through the roof of their mobile home.
“They hid in the bathroom,” said Kersey. “She said the tornado scared them to death.”
One home on Sundance Way lost power and had trees on the structure there. The resident is on oxygen and only had a 24-hour supply. It was reported the Red Cross was taking care of his needs.
An empty mobile home on Log Lake Road was completely lifted off its foundation and damaged it beyond repair.
However, the homeowner said he had damage to the roof of his brick home next to the trailer which resulted in additional water damage from the storm. Between the house and the trailer were several large downed tree limbs.
Holt Fire also responded to a 911 call from a house on Hiawatha Street whose living room filled with smoke. No fire was found. It appeared to be electrical in nature from a possible lightning strike, according to Kersey.
At the top of the hill where Broxson Road ends due east of Log Lake Road and Sundance Way, a two-story home belonging to Larry and Reina Elliott also sustained tornado damage.
Baker Fire District, assisting Holt Fire, responded to that 911 call.
According to Reina Elliott, it appeared the tornado struck from the back of the home, tearing off the back porch and roof.
“Part of my roof is in my husband’s cousin’s yard on Roxy Lane,” she said from New York where she’s visiting her mother.
While CHELCO has restored power to many of the 180 homes in the Log Lake area affected by the storm, Elliott’s home is still without power, “because there’s so much water inside my home,” she said.
Her husband was home at the time of the storm and told her all he saw was a white sheet at the end of the driveway as the tornado went by.
“He crawled into the bathroom. He felt the house shake,” she said.
Elliott’s two dogs, a Jack Russell and a bloodhound, were outside when the storm blew through.
“They must have hid,” she said, because they reappeared after the storm.
While Holt Fire District only received five emergency calls following the storm, it was obvious other homes in the area were damaged.
“You can look around and see damage to other houses,” said Kersey.
Because of the rural nature of the land south of Interstate 10, it’s difficult to know exactly how many homes may have sustained storm damage, he said.
Not long after the tornado passed, the Holt Community Facebook page was calling for a “check-in” for those living south of Interstate 10 and asking for volunteers to assist those who needed help.
One community member, Nick Kagan with TnT Tree Service, responded to the call and volunteered himself and his equipment to remove trees from roadways and homes along Log Lake Road and Sundance Way.
Other area residents walked door to door checking on neighbors.
“It’s truly amazing no one was hurt during the storm,” said Holt Fire Captain Shelly Chestnut.