Officials confirm Gloucester tornado


— Dozens of Gloucester residents spent Tuesday repairing damage from Monday's tornado, which skipped across the county, leaving shorn trees and downed power lines in its wake.

A roofing crew was already at work rebuilding the roof of a Hickory Fork Road barn. The roof was torn off and flung across the pasture when the twister passed through at around 5 p.m. Owner Dan Strittmatter was working in the barn when his wife called to tell that him news reports warned of a tornado.

"Just pretty much heard a really loud noise, went in the house and tried to secure everything," Strittmatter said. "When I looked outside, the tree had come down, the roof was gone."

A 100-year-old box elder tree had been completely uprooted by the wind but, luckily, fell away from the house.

Though initial reports Monday listed only three confirmed tornadoes — in Suffolk, Brunswick County and Colonial Heights — the National Weather Service said Tuesday that a tornado had indeed touched down in Gloucester.

Witnesses reported sightings on Chestnut Fork and Ark roads, according to interviews, and Maj. Tim Doss, Gloucester Sheriff's department chief deputy. Buildings also were reported damaged around Crab Thicket Road, off Route 14, he said.

Tessie Jackson, who lives on Chestnut Fork Road and works for the Daily Press circulation department, said she watched a swirling mass of debris move through her pasture, wrecking her fence and flinging a section of her neighbor's tin roof onto a power line 20 feet above the ground.

Leslie Campbell, Strittmatter's wife, said she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of help that's come from friends and strangers alike. The couple woke up Tuesday to find a portable toilet in their yard for the work crew, supplied, unsolicited, by their neighbor, who owns Thayer's Septic Service.

"Even through this morning, people — strangers — were driving by saying, 'I work full time, but if you need help I'll take the day off,' " Campbell said.

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