CHIPLEY, Fla. – Two people have died, and two others were injured after a likely tornado hit the Florida Panhandle early Thursday morning.
Washington County first responders are on the scene of what the sheriff's office said was a tornado that touched down about 4:15 a.m. Central in Chipley near Gilbert’s Mill Road and surrounding areas. Chipley is located about 30 miles north of Panama City.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said they launched a drone to see the extent of the devastation.
"Footage begins on Gilberts Mill Road, northeast of Kent Mill Pond Road, following the path of destruction to the northeast, crossing Jewel Road and Archie Sapp Road, where the tornado continued towards Jackson County," Sheriff Kevin Crews said.
Donna Bratcher lives nearby and said she still can't process what happened after homes were destroyed in her neighborhood.
"When they called me, I just went into tears. I mean, it's heartbreaking. We have neighbors that are dead," she said.
There were two Severe Thunderstorm Warnings issued in Chipley early Thursday morning followed by Tornado Warnings thereafter just to the east of Washington County.
The Red Cross will be setting up a location at Orange Hill Fire Department for anyone needing assistance.
"The good Lord has been with us all these years, and this is the first besides Hurricane Michael because we just got everything rebuilt from that. Now, this happens, so we'll just rebuild, pick up the pieces and rebuild," Chipley resident Kim Gross said.
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a Tornado Watch valid until 2 p.m. Eastern time for southern Georgia, the eastern Florida Panhandle, the Florida Big Bend area and northwestern Florida. This watch area includes Albany and Valdosta in Georgia and Apalachicola and Tallahassee in Florida.
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