Workers at an animal rescue and rehabilitation center are still feeling the effects of last month’s tornado


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WILLISTON, Fla. (WCJB) — Many residents of north-central Florida are still picking up bits of the destruction left in their wake by the March 12 tornado.

The Sweet Water Animal Rescue and Rehab Center in Williston is one of those places.

“During the last onslaught of tornadoes, we had a touch in front field and we had a 160-foot fence that just fell over,” said owner Rosie Gutierrez.

The center also had roof damage and some flooding. Over 160 animals at the center have either been saved from slaughter or have medical problems and most are available for adoption.

Kathy Clevinger-Magin, a volunteer, describes a case where they rescued a dog.

“One was a German shepherd who had a huge 7 pound tumor that needed to be removed and he was a guard dog and was just dropped off at the shelter.”

Since the death of her mother in 2016, rescuing animals has had a greater impact on Gutierrez.

“I felt a little lost and did this as a tribute to her memory and way of giving. She always said I love animals more than people, but animals love you unconditionally where people can be pretty cruel at times.”

As a non-profit organization, they ask the community for help with repairs.

“Any time a bad storm comes through a whole section it gets blown over and we worry that the horses will get onto the road or onto the train tracks when someone could just help volunteer.”

Businesses and residents affected by the storm can apply for a low-interest disaster loan in eight counties, including Marion, Alachua, Levy and Putnam.

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