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Tornado's cost estimated at $4.5-million

The tornado that skipped across Indian Rocks Beach, Largo and Clearwater on Monday morning caused $4.5-million in damage to 190 buildings in those cities.

Clearwater reported the bulk of the damage: $4-million to houses, apartment buildings, businesses and Clearwater High School. Indian Rocks Beach estimated damage at $300,000, and Largo estimated $200,000.

Eight buildings, three houses and five apartment buildings, were destroyed. Another 26 buildings had major damage and 156 had minor damage.

The county faxed the damage estimates to Florida's Emergency Management Department on Wednesday and expects to find out in the next week whether it will receive any state money to help property owners rebuild.

Christal Coleman, Pinellas' emergency management coordinator, said that because of the relatively small amount of damage, the state probably will not give the county any money.

Rather, Coleman said property owners who have no or little insurance may be eligible to receive low-interest loans with rates of 4 to 8 percent.

So far, Coleman said no one has reported having too little insurance.

Monday's tornado swept ashore from the Gulf of Mexico at Indian Rocks Beach about 8:40 a.m. and moved northeast through Largo and Clearwater. It left thousands without power, knocked down trees, shattered glass and caused roofs to collapse.

An emergency shelter was opened Monday in Clearwater for people whose homes were damaged in the storm. By 7 p.m. that same night, everyone had left.

No other cities in Pinellas reported damage, although some temporarily lost electricity. Other counties were damaged by the storm, but Pinellas was the hardest hit.

This week's storm was considerably less costly than the $37-million worth of damage caused by an October 1993 tornado, the $20-million attributed to the no-name storm in March 1993 and the $25-million reported in October, 1996, after Tropical Storm Josephine.

Anyone with questions about receiving low-interest loans from the state, may call the county's emergency management office at 464-3800.

Storm damage

DESTROYED BUILDINGS (greater than 50 percent damage):

3 houses in Indian Rocks Beach

5 apartment buildings in Indian Rocks Beach

MAJOR DAMAGE (between 25-50 percent damage):

6 houses in Largo

5 houses in Clearwater

3 houses in Indian Rocks Beach

9 apartment buildings in Clearwater

2 apartment buildings in Indian Rocks Beach

Clearwater High School gym building

MINOR DAMAGE (less than 25 percent damage):

135 houses, mostly in Clearwater

10 apartment buildings, mostly in Clearwater

11 businesses, mostly in Clearwater

Source: the Pinellas County Emergency Management Office