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Severe Weather, Quake Strike Fla.

October 25, 1997

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Panhandle was twisting and shaking Friday from an earthquake, thunderstorms, a waterspout and, finally, a tornado that tossed a bread truck into the air and overturned a fuel tanker.

The two trucks had slowed to a near stop because of heavy rainfall about 10 miles east of Panama City at about 11:45 a.m. when they encountered the twister, said Florida Highway Patrol trooper Raymond Bailey.

``The bread truck was literally picked up and thrown 100 feet into a wooded area,″ Bailey said. Witnesses said the tornado lifted the truck 15 to 20 feet into the air before dropping it to the ground.

The bread truck driver, who suffered a severe head gash, was the only person injured in the stormy weather and earthquake that was centered north of Brewton, Ala.

The quake, which measured 4.9 on the Richter Scale, jarred southern Alabama and the western end of the Panhandle at about 3:40 a.m. It caused minor property damage in Alabama.

``It shook things on shelves,″ said Brenda Kelly of Pollard, Ala. ``I just knew it was an earthquake.″

But she didn’t get out of bed. The motion stopped quickly ``so we didn’t go outside and look for damage,″ she said.

Emergency officials in Pensacola said they got hundreds of calls about the tremor, which was also was felt at Eglin Air Force Base about 40 miles east of here.

A water spout that churned out of the Gulf of Mexico at 7:30 a.m. at Panama City Beach damaged the roofs of a convenience store and telephone equipment building. It also knocked down bleachers at a middle school football field, said Maj. Mike Odom of the Panama City Beach police.

Heavy rains in the Fort Walton Beach area, about 30 miles east of here, flooded a fire station and Okaloosa County’s emergency operations center.

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