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Cleanup continues after storm

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Damage from Tropical Storm Debby minimal, county official says

By Mike Wright

LECANTO — It’s been two weeks since Tropical Storm Debby barged into Citrus County and Robert Maxey hasn’t forgotten.

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Maxey and his neighbors along a rural stretch of County Road 491 felt a Debby spinoff — a suspected tornado that hit Sunday night, June 24, concluding a day of 10-inch rainfall.

Maxey, who lives just south of Cardinal Street, said the tornado sent his garage over a neighbor’s fence and littered his five acres with debris and tree limbs.

“Every day, we’re hauling stuff to the burn pit,” he said. “Insurance doesn’t pay for tree damage unless the trees are lying on the house.”

While Debby brought significant rainfall and many pockets of road flooding, damage to homes and businesses was minimal, county officials said.

Jim Baird, Citrus County building division director, said the county sent five damage-assessment teams throughout the county.

He said 94 homes and 12 businesses were impacted by water or wind. Of those, four homes were classified as having “major” damage and two homes were destroyed.

Maxey’s home was spared from receiving major damage. Just down the street, however, the tornado ripped the roof from a house and several houses in the area show signs of damage.

Maxey said he was watching TV that Sunday night when he heard the tornado warning. He said he was on the phone with his mother when the 9:31 p.m. twister hit.

“I said, ‘Gotta go, the twister’s here,’” Maxey said. “I could hear the mayhem.”

Maxey said as soon the noise died down, he went out to investigate.

“I couldn’t get down the driveway,” he said. “There were pieces here and there. So much debris.”

Maxey said it would cost him $6,000 to haul away the tree debris. Rather than pay that, he and some workers have been collecting the debris and burning it.

He also cut up limbs and stacked the firewood at the end of his driveway. “The firewood’s free if anyone wants to pick it up,” he said.

Maxey is no stranger to tornados. He said he survived a tornado living in St. Petersburg and a few years back a tornado blew a mobile home onto his property in Lecanto.

“I’m trying to clean this all up,” he said. “I’ve been burning for six straight days.”

Chronicle reporter Mike Wright can be reached at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.