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Gusty storm crushes store in Brandon

The Tampa Bay area was under a tornado watch Sunday afternoon, but Brandon residents seemed to have born the brunt of the blustery weather.

The watch was in effect from noon until 6 p.m., said Frank Alsheimer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

"It was a strong storm," Alsheimer said. "Locally, there were heavy rains and gusty winds."

These strong winds were responsible for at least one large tree going down across a busy road, sheriff's officials said.

No one was injured when the tree fell at Woodberry Road and Lakewood Avenue just after 3 p.m.

The storm kicked up high winds and driving rains that knocked over a store under construction off Brandon's main drag, said Tammy Hayes, an employee of the Arby's restaurant at 903 W Brandon Boulevard, next door to the damaged building.

"When it fell, it really made a loud boom," Hayes said. "Those people are going to have to start all over again."

The storm was quick and intense, said Louise Boyette, who lives on Pauls Drive in Brandon.

"We could see everything twisting around for a few seconds," Boyette said. "There was a lot of loud noise and real heavy winds."

Boyette said the storm skipped around her small neighborhood, causing slight damage in some areas and none in others.

One of her neighbors reported seeing a small funnel cloud touch down near his end of the street.

Hayes said the storm blew shingles from a few roofs and caused the computers at Arby's to shut down briefly.

Alsheimer said he heard from television news reports that a small funnel cloud had touched down, but had no official confirmation of that.