110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Jun 13, 2014 - 11:56:47am
A storm that blew through West Volusia in the late afternoon June 10 hit especially hard in Lake Helen, where several houses were whacked by falling trees and the power was out at some homes for as long as six hours.
No injuries were reported, according to Lake Helen Police Chief Michael Walker.
Retired Volusia County sheriff’s deputy Barry Clark, who lost 10 trees and had four vehicles, a pump and fences damaged at his home on McKenzie Road, said the storm sounded and acted like a tornado.
“I hear the noise, and when I looked out the storm door, I saw the trees being uprooted and spinning around,” Clark said. “I quickly shut the inside, heavy front door and held it, and it felt like something was trying to break through the door.”
Clark said a neighbor reported seeing a funnel cloud.
“I think we had a microburst that wreaked havoc on Lake Helen,” Mayor Buddy Snowden said. “At least five houses were compromised in the city.”
One of those houses was the Aton home on Main Street, where a tree ripped through the roof and crashed into the attic just above a toddler’s bedroom. Four adults and a 2-year-old were inside.
Another part of the huge tree collapsed across Main Street, closing the road for several hours.
Parts of the toppled tree covered the front door of the home, where Thomas and Phyllis Aton were inside with their grandson Brian Durham, along with his fiancee, Tiffany Herring, and their son, Mason Durham.
“When the tree crashed through the roof, they were all very frightened. Luckily, no one was hurt,” family member Marty Aton said.
The playground at Lake Helen’s Blake Park was heavily damaged. A wooden structure called Santa’s House was destroyed, and other playground equipment was damaged.
Some damage was also reported at the nearby Equestrian Center, Mayor Snowden said.
Damage to two homes was also reported on Palm Avenue, and to at least one home on New York Avenue, where efforts to repair downed power lines continued June 11.
As night fell Tuesday, it looked as if a strange sort of machine had run through Lake Helen’s roads, stripping leaves from the trees and tossing them to the pavement. Foliage carpeted the streets in many areas.
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