Sahara Motel is left without power after winds damage building

12:15 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, FL -- Straight-line winds left behind damage at an area motel. 

Guests at the Sahara Motel on Gandy Boulevard got a scare Tuesday night after winds sent boat awnings sailing over the building.

See Also: Cleanup after Tuesday's waterspout, storms

"It was raining real hard and then all of a sudden it just stopped, and it was like you could feel the pressure... you know, big pressure coming up. And then everything just started popping," said hotel guest Rick Tibbett.

The popping sound that Tibbett described was from one of two boat canopies that blew over the building.  One landed in the motel parking lot and hit three cars on the way down.  The second clipped the building and landed on the power lines.

"I looked out the window in the back part and I seen all the boats, everything was shaking," said Tibbett.

Parts of Gandy Boulevard were closed for several hours.  Nearby neighborhoods and businesses were without power until Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Sahara Motel was still without power.  The first boat awning destroyed an electrical unit when it blew by.

There is a possibility that the entire system will have to be rewired and could take several hours or even days to repair.