Tracking Elsa aftermath: Tornado damage in St. Marys neighborhood

ST. MARY'S, Ga. — The area was hit with an EF-2 tornado with about 130 mph winds. Neighbors tell Action News Jax they’re in disbelief but they’re all OK.

Kenneth Sylvester was inside his home when a tornado with wind speeds of more than 130 miles an hour touched down in his St. Mary’s neighborhood.

“I start looking around the doors and I was like, ‘Oh my god! This is unbelievable,’” he said.

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There are still branches and flipped-over trailers, as well as other debris in Sylvester’s backyard.

“What was your reaction when you came outside and you saw that?” Action News Jax reporter Jessica Barreto asked. “Amazed. I mean, really amazed,” he answered.

His neighbor, Charles Jones, got an alert from the National Weather Service and had seconds to buckle down.

“I went into my little bathroom, grabbed some pillows, and I have a helmet and I put that on and I heard this big roar,” Jones said.

Wind speeds were similar to a Category 2 hurricane, but with one big difference.

Our Action News Jax weather team says EF-2 wind speeds are similar to a category 3 hurricane, with the big difference being how quickly those winds pick up. It can form in just minutes and cause destruction.

And despite the scare, neighbors are grateful.

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“I feel thankful that nothing happened to me,” Sylvester said.

“Hurricanes come and hurricanes go, we’re still here,” he added.

Sylvester told Action News Jax that Southeast Community Church and other churches have reached out to say they will help him and other neighbors clean up all this debris.