It was a cold January evening 100 years ago when a Category F2 tornado with winds estimated to be between 113-157 miles per hour devastated the little town of Apopka.
Although no one was killed, there were 10 injuries to people due to the tornado. 35 homes were hit, and a total of $125,000 worth of damage was reported to the city, which would equate to about $1.9 million by 2018 standards.
According to reports, there were no structures left standing.
“The tornado was preceded by a severe electrical and thunderstorm, which commenced about 7 p.m. and lasted until midnight. The tornado came up from the south. It was a “twister” and its path was a line of destruction. Everything in the track of the storm went down. Buildings were demolished and railway cars blown into ditches. Among the houses destroyed were the White residence, the Seaboard depot, Eldridge livery stable, Miss Howard’s residence, Judge Weatherbee’s residence, the schoolhouse, B.F. Wilson’s store and home, and many other buildings. Some can be repaired. That there was no loss of life is considered marvelous.”
And 100 years later, Apopka will remember.
On Thursday, 750 students at Apopka Elementary School will gather at 9:30 AM to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the infamous 1918 tornado, which wiped out the school, much of downtown Apopka, and a sycamore tree planted by the Sheppard family.
Orange County Public School Board Member Christine Moore, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and Apopka Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale will also be in attendance. Carnesale has been an integral part of preserving the memory of the twin sycamore trees at City Hall.
In 1918 the Apopka Union School was located on the current City Hall property. Apopka Elementary was moved in the late 1960’s to its current location at the corner of Old Dixie Highway and what is now known as Vick Road. The remembrance will include student poetry, a chorus performance, and the planting of a new sycamore tree.