269 Fla. inmates relocated after tornado damages facility

There were no injuries to work camp staff or inmates as a result of the tornado

By Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW, Fla. — The 269 inmates moved from the Okaloosa Correctional Institute work camp near Crestview after a tornado downed a security fence and damaged a dining facility Monday evening are being housed in other area correctional facilities until repairs can be made, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

The EF-0 tornado was not initially noted by the National Weather Service office in Mobile. But after seeing photos from emergency responders of the scene off Colonel Greg Malloy Road near Crestview, and reviewing their own radar data from Monday evening, the Mobile meteorologists issued a statement Tuesday noting they had "concluded that damage to a food services building and perimeter fence at the Okaloosa Correctional Facility ... was likely the result of a brief EF-0 tornado."

An EF-0 tornado produces winds between 65 mph and 85 mph.

There were storms in the area at the time, which meant that there was enough wind shear — changes in wind speed and direction — to produce a tornado, an NWS meteorologist said Tuesday.

There were no injuries to work camp staff or inmates as a result of the tornado.

After the tornado struck, Okaloosa County deputies stood guard as correctional facility personnel moved the inmates to new quarters. In a Wednesday email, Florida Department of Corrections Press Secretary Patrick Manderfield said 184 inmates were transferred to the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute in Milton in neighboring Santa Rosa County. The other 85 inmates were transferred to the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview, according to Manderfield.

Asked whether the transfer had created any overcrowding at either of the two facilities to which the Okaloosa work camp inmates had been sent, Manderfield responded, "At this time, all inmates are appropriately housed in either secure cell or open bay dorms."

Manderfield could not say Wednesday how much repairs at the Okaloosa work camp would cost, nor could he say how long those repairs might take.

"We're still conducting damage assessments," he said in the email. "We look forward to returning displaced inmates to Okaloosa as soon as the work camp is back to normal operations."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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