SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Inclement weather that stirred prior to the passage of Tropical Storm Philippe near South Florida spawned a tornado that wreaked havoc in a Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood and caused a nearby bowling alley to shut down, Saturday.
Water poured into Bird Bowl, located at 9275 SW 40th St., after the tornado touched down, damaging part of the bowling alley’s roof and shutting down business for the day.
Bird Bowl general manager Dion De Freitas recorded video of the damage on his cellphone. “Wow, we lost everything,” he said.
De Freitas said it happened fast and at the busiest time of the day. “We got the tornado alerts on our phones, and then it felt like, 30 seconds later, lights started flickering,” he said.
The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado touchdown in the area, just northeast of Bird Road and Southwest 97th Avenue, at around 1:20 p.m.
The strong winds took down several residents’ fences.
“I think what happened was the storm went around the back of the building because the power lines went down,” said De Freitas.
The twister also slung a dumpster behind the bowling alley and shattered the front window of the CosmoProf Salon Supply store at 9257 SW 40th St., knocking out power to the shopping center.
The bowling alley closure left customers trying to get out of the rain feeling frustrated. “We saw the [closed] sign,” said Maikel Pena. “We drove all the way from Hialeah to over here, like a 30- to 40-minute drive ’cause of all this weather. Yeah, now we gotta go.”
Florida Keys resident Taylor Dolson also drove a long way. “This is crazy. We just drove a half an hour from the pumpkin patch to get here, and now we’re going to have to drive to another one,” she said.
“Not what I expected. I didn’t think a tornado would hit down in Florida,” said customer Marlon Arias.
Several FPL crews worked quickly to restore power to the shopping center and neighboring residents.
Back at Bird Bowl, rain water flooded floors, left electronics soaked, paint peeling and pieces of the ceiling on the ground.
“Uh, man, that is such a sad sight,” De Freitas is heard saying in the cellphone video.
The management cleaned up the mess left in the twister’s path. “We get really busy at that time, and you know, everybody’s here to have a good time, and it’s unfortunate,” said De Freitas. “Of course, these things never happen on Monday.”
Employees at Bird Bowl have prepared to reopen the business Sunday at 9 a.m.
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