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Tornado rips up rooftop

‘All of a sudden it sounded like there was a herd of elephants stampeding on the roof,’ says witness at business complex.

January 20, 2010|By Joseph Serna

The industrial park houses 20 businesses at the corner of West 17th Street and Whittier Avenue on the west side of Costa Mesa. Police shut down a part of Whittier while crews cleaned up the huge pieces — some 10 to 15 feet long and several feet wide – that littered the building parking lot and streets. Cars were hit with mud and debris from the roof and bushes and trees. The property owner said the building had insurance to cover the damage.

About the same time that the twister spun through, Todd Ferguson said his business, Castle Tile, was hit by a tornado just a few miles away.

“It was jet black outside. There was thunder and lightning for a few minutes before,” Ferguson said. “You could feel everything happening. And then all of a sudden, the door just blew open and everything blew inside,” he said.

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He and another employee pushed the door shut and locked it, then Ferguson went to check on one of his employees. She was under a desk, surrounded by broken glass, he said. The wind was too much for the business’ front window and shattered it with just sheer pressure, he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. It came and then was just gone instantly. It was calm right after,” Ferguson said.

Public safety officials in Newport-Mesa said there was no major car crashes Tuesday or flooding. The California Highway Patrol has been inundated with accidents since the storms came in, said deputy Denise Quesada. On Jan. 11, there were five crashes on the 73, 55 and 405 freeways in or around Newport-Mesa. On Monday, there were 36, she said. In Orange County, there were more than 300 traffic collisions reported, well more than double the week before, she said.

Officials with the Orange County Sheriff Harbor Patrol said that outside of a few loose boats, weather has not been much of an issue.

School district officials said several schools have reported water damage from Monday’s rain and a few structures built for shade outside had their roofs ripped off because of Tuesday’s wind. Buses were late in dropping off students after school Tuesday, and students were kept inside school while the tornado warning was in effect, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

High wind and high surf advisories, with winds gusting up to 45 mph and surf expected to get up to 11 feet with extremely dangerous rip currents, remains in effect for coastal Orange County cities.

According to the National Weather Service, residents can expect more of the same Wednesday afternoon and into Wednesday night. More powerful weather systems will bring rain, 60 mph winds and possibly hail through Friday. Flood, wind, and high surf warnings will remain in effect today.


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