04/10/05
Tornado or not?


Some folks in Venice were still cleaning up Saturday and Patches Restaurant remained closed after they say a tornado ripped through Thursday night.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say they're still not certain that it was a tornado instead of some strong straight-line winds.

Investigators from the national weather service might be coming to Venice within the next few days to take a look at the damage and a security tape that captured what looked like a small tornado.

Those who were there, however, swear it was a tornado that rumbled through just before 7 p.m., as the pictures on this page show.

"All of a sudden a big gust of air came through ... this huge blast of wind. ... It shook things in the yard, laid everything flat," said Les Fountain of Venice

Fountain lives about one mile from all the damage. He and his buddies came to check on their favorite restaurant, Patches, on Friday.

Three of the windows at Patches blew in during the height of dinner rush, with about 75 people inside. Three people were treated and released on the scene for minor injuries, according to Pam Johnson, city spokeswoman.

"It's going to be a lot of cleaning up ... putting up the fence at the water plant, getting things ready to go at Patches," said Venice Fire Chief Mike Johnson, whose station No. 2 had minor damages. "It could have been a lot worse."


Staff Reports

and ABC-7 News