Tornado damages 4 dorms, chapel at Fla. conference center

EUSTIS, Fla. (BP)--A tornado touched down at Florida Baptists’ Lake Yale Conference Center at 3:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, causing extensive damage to its North Camp area as a series of storms tore across central Florida in the early morning hours.

Conference center manager Don Sawyer reported that no one was hurt even though about 100 people were staying overnight at the conference center. No damage was done to the conference center or its South Camp, which had been hit by a twister on Christmas Day.

Four North Camp dorms received roof damage and the chapel’s steeple was torn off the roof; doors and windows also were blown out. Power lines were ripped out by the tornado and will require extensive electrical repair.

Florida Baptist disaster relief volunteers quickly responded to help with cleanup at the damaged area.

The storms also did extensive damage in nearby Lady Lake, Sawyer reported, and 500 people need immediate housing. “These are our neighbors,” said Sawyer, adding that South Camp and North Camp when repairs are completed will be used to house many of the displaced persons.

Gov. Charlie Crist has issued a state of emergency for four central Florida counties: Lake, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia. Media reports indicate that at least 14 persons were killed by the storms.

Florida Baptist disaster relief teams are being activated in the affected areas, reported Fritz Wilson, director of the convention’s disaster relief and recovery department. Lake Yale will serve as command center for the duration of the recovery.


Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.

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