'Tornado Ripped Through Paradise'
Andrea Hamilton headed home to safety. Only her home was the not the safe haven she thought it would be.
Andrea Hamilton was enjoying a night out at the Wharf when she heard about the tornado watch and tropical storm warning.
She returned home for safety. Her home turned out to Ground Zero for a tornado that blew the roofs off houses and turned buildings into giants pickup sticks.
Hamilton has been a resident of Pass-A-Grille for eight months, but grew up in St. Petersburg and visited the community often in her youth.
"We live in paradise. To have this happen, it's awful," said Hamilton.
Hamilton lives in the Historic Castle on 4th Avenue and Gulfway. The building received extensive damages from the storm.
"The roof is gone and windows are blown out. We don't even know where our patio furniture is. It's just gone," Hamilton said. Luckily, she was not hurt.
Though her building got hit, the damage pales in comparison to some of the other damaged areas in Pass-A-Grille. A friend of Hamilton, who lives in condos on 9th Avenue, had to evacuate due to the condos caving in.
"Our sleepy little paradise community has been devastated and turned upside-down," Hamilton said.
The storm has hurt more than just the brick and mortar structures of Pass-A-Grille. The damages have hit upon the light-hearted nature of the friendly community.
"Normally everyone is smiling when you go for a walk and nobody is smiling today. It's very sad," Hamilton said.
Despite everything, Hamilton remains positive about the community uniting to rebuild the beachside paradise.
"The community is coming together. Everyone is helping everybody. That's just what we do here," Hamilton said.