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Panama City Beach officials speak on possible tornado that left damage

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 4:31 AM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Strong winds, thunder, heavy rain and a possible tornado shook Panama City Beach Monday.

“It was obviously pretty intense. We’ve got some pretty heavy damage on some particular structures and within the city,” Panama City Beach Fire Battalion Chief Tim Smith said.

Smith said the possible tornado hit north of Back Beach Road, around Frank Brown Park.

“We’re asking all residents to stay clear of power lines. If something looks damaged, don’t go near it. We’ve got some structure issues that we know are out there, so we just want everyone to be as safe as possible,” Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon said.

Sheldon said three people were taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries. Sheldon adds, they are working with the weather service to learn more about the intensity of the possible tornado.

“So our crews have been throughout the city to verify that nobody’s in need of assistance and to verify there’s no unsafe structures throughout the city that may not have been occupied,” said Smith.

Sheldon said Frank Brown Park saw damage like uprooted bleachers and debris all over the fields. Smith said heavy wind damage can also be seen all along Front Beach Road. To show just how strong the winds were, the tables at Funland Arcade are made of stone, but they were still blown over. Smith said they’ve seen partial roof tear-offs, large tree limbs and power lines down, scattered debris and a few damaged cars.

“Everybody is coming in now and everybody is putting their best foot forward and we thank the team. Panama City Beach is the way it is because of the team we have,” said Sheldon.

Sheldon said the next step is to start the cleanup process as quickly as possible. Smith urges residents to stay home if possible, but if you have to leave, watch for debris and down power lines in the streets. Sheldon said Frank Brown Park remained closed throughout Monday, except for after school care where they made sure all the kids were safe. Frank Brown Park will re-open at 2 p.m. Tuesday, but the ball fields will remained closed for cleanup.

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