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32 people injured by tornado

A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on parts of this beachside community devastated by a tornado that caused up to an estimated $14-million in damage.

The twister began early Sunday as a strong thunderstorm that blew through Lake and western Volusia counties and intensified just before reaching New Smyrna Beach.

No one was killed, though 32 people were injured. Six of them remained hospitalized Sunday night, one with a broken back and another with a broken pelvis.

Thousands of customers were left without power, and about 300 homes were damaged. Two schools, New Smyrna Beach High and Chisholm Elementary, suffered damage, and the high school will be closed today while officials asses the damage.

The 64-unit Diamond Head Point condominium complex on the Indian River was devastated by the storm.

Resident Roger Bayles said his wife, Sal, got up to close the window to keep rain out and was just returning to bed when the twister hit.

"It woke me up and almost sucked my wife out the window," said Bayles, a resident of the condominium complex. "I could see the barbecue grill on the porch take off like a bullet." His wife was treated for minor injuries.

The residents at the complex, many of them retirees, were evacuated, but officials said residents were allowed to enter Sunday evening to claim some of their possessions.

"There's numerous houses that have the roofs gone, and some two-story buildings have their whole second story just leveled," said police spokesman Mike Brouillette.

Some of the streets had become a sea of debris: shards of glass, chunks of downed power lines, pieces of trees.

One home was clumsily tilted on its side. On another lot, the only recognizable piece of the house was the kitchen, where counters, shelves and even dishes appeared intact.

Pearlie and Robert Thompson were sleeping in their upstairs bedroom when they heard the storm.

"I heard a sound like an explosion, and then the roof was just lifted off the house and we were staring up at the sky," Pearlie Thompson said.

About 200 residents of the condominium complex and surrounding neighborhoods were forced out of their damaged homes.

No one except residents and emergency workers will be allowed in the area for several days.

A police officer in nearby Port Orange was injured in an accident on Interstate 95 when his car was struck by a pickup truck during the storm. The officer, who was investigating another accident, was hospitalized overnight but released Sunday morning with cuts and bruises.

The tornado was part of a stormy weather front that caused problems across the peninsula Sunday. Another tornado touched down in Cape Coral in southwest Florida, causing minor damage to homes across a 2-square-mile area but injuring no one.

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