MYAKKA -- A tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Andrea ripped through a rural area west of Myakka City early Thursday, causing property damage but no injuries, authorities say.
Deputies found a shed and other debris covering about 150 feet along State Road 70 East near Singletary Road, several downed power lines and a fire.
The sound of a cell phone text alert shortly after 3 a.m. told Herb Loynd to gather his family and take cover.
"My phone woke us up and told us to take cover," Loynd said.
He said the family huddled in the hallway of his house on stilts a few dozen yards from State Road 70.
"I opened the window, and you could feel the rumbling," he said. "Stuff went everywhere."
Everything that had been underneath his home was spread across his property.
"It took our washing machine and flipped it on its side," he said. "It picked up our refrigerator and slammed it against a wall."
Loynd's children, ages 7, 9 and 13, were terrified.
"We've never been through anything like that," he said. "It was amazing. You feel so helpless."
Loynd was at Miller's General Store, where he saw store manager Md. Z. Abedin. "Hey, I know where
your trampoline is," Loynd told him.
Abedin said his family was OK, but the store's roof was damaged above the cooler where wet bottles of water and beer were stacked on the floor.
"It was scary," Abedin said. "I called the police at 3:14 a.m. I woke up to lots of noise and metal." Abedin said the whole thing just lasted three or four minutes.
Outside, an inmate road crew was clearing twisted aluminum and other debris from State Road 70,
Across the street, at the home of Rod Green, the metal roof of his home was peeled back. He rode out the tornado inside the house.
"My intention was to go outside and lay in a ditch," he said. He tried to open his back door when the wind snatched the door from his hand. He said he couldn't see past his porch.
Green said there wasn't time to think about what to do.
"It was horrific. It felt like the whole house was shaking," he recalled. He said he simply stood in the house, "standing back to see what was going to go first."
"Then all of a sudden, it [the storm] was gone.
"You think you're prepared but when you're in it, you're not prepared," Green said.
About a mile southeast of the general store, Mobi Jones was surveying what was left of his horse barns and workshop. One of his horses was killed in the storm when the barn collapsed on it.
"I'm still short two dogs. I don't know where they are," Jones said.
Jones was already up to let one of his dogs out when the wind suddenly kicked up.
"The whole house was shaking," he said. "It only took 10-15 seconds. You didn't have time to run, hide, nothing."
The roof of his tack room was gone but rope, bridles and other gear were still hanging on the wall. A few shingles on the roof of his house were gone; two barns less than 50 yards away were destroyed. His two vehicles were untouched.
The roof of his workshop was gone. Left behind were hurricane clips still attached to the wall frame studs, bent at odd angles.
"It took 20 years to build it and 20 seconds to lose it. What a mess," Jones said.
While some power lines were downed, Mark Sellers of Peace River Electric Cooperative said 273 customers lost power but all service was restored quickly. "All customers had power restored by 9:30 a.m.," Sellers said.
The National Weather Service forecast indicated Andrea's danger had largely passed by midnight Thursday. Overnight showers and possibly a thunderstorm could produce gusty winds of less than 30 mph and heavy rain, according to NWS.
Today brings a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with partly sunny skies and a high near 87.
Jim DeLa, East Manatee editor, can be reached at 941-745-7011. Follow him on Twitter @JimDeLaBH.