Eta has been upgraded to a hurricane, and the National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for most of Florida's West Coast, including Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee counties, Wednesday morning.
Winds from Hurricane Eta pulled portions of a roof off one Venice mobile home Wednesday morning.
The home, in the 100 block of Cockrill Street in the Beach Manor Villas, sustained damage to its roof and gutters about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Matthew Angier, a nearby resident, was talking to his boss on the lanai about weather conditions as the incident happened.
"I look over and see all these pieces come flying up ... styrofoam and this one," he said, pointing to debris in his yard.
He said he called 911 and then knocked on the building to see if there was anyone home. Thankfully, he said, there wasn't.
He didn't think it was a microburst or a small tornado.
"It was just wind; I don't think it was a (micro)burst," he said. "It was a whole ripping sound; a shredding," Angier said.
He said he was aware of Hurricane Eta and keeping an eye on it.
"I didn't think it was going to pull this much east - but it did and it's surprising," Angier said.
Charlotte County announced schools are closed Wednesday, and Sarasota County Schools said it will be ending its school day two hours earlier.
The Charlotte County school district made its announcement around 6 a.m. Wednesday through emails and automated phone calls to parents.
"Upon further study we have decided in the best interest of our children, our staff and parents is to cancel school today (Wednesday). We hate to do this at such a late time in the morning, but it’s for the safety and well-being again of the children, staff and parents of Charlotte County public schools," the district wrote.
There has been no announcement from DeSoto County Schools.
The city of Venice announced the closing of the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier, Humphris Park and the South Jetty walkway and the Children's Interactive Fountain in Centennial Park because of the weather.
"They will reopen when conditions improve, as determined by the city," it said in an email.
The National Weather Service reported Tropical Storm Eta now has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, making it just below hurricane strength. The NWS also issued a Storm Surge Watch for the coast of West-Central and Southwest Florida. (The winds have likely increased since then to at least 74 MPH, which is when a tropical storm is called a hurricane.)