Three people were killed and more than 60 were injured when a tornado cut a mile-wide path across Gloucester County Saturday, said Gloucester Sheriff Steve Gentry.The victims have been identified as Periccis Gerasimos Koutsoumbinas,a 60 year-old-male, of the 4900 block Hummingbird Lane, Richard Lynn Ingram, a 53-year-old-male, of the 4000 block of Shelly Road and Cecil Wray Page Jr, 90, of the 3600 block of Shelly Road.
We're updating the story with news and information as we receive it.
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Among Sunday's developments:
- All schools in Gloucester County will be closed on Monday.
- County officials are considering a curfew for Sunday night.
- Gloucester County officials think a single tornado touched down, causing the Saturday night damage.
- Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency
- Some roads in the Middle Peninsula have been closed to enable workers to clear roads of debris.
- Damage in Isle of Wight County was pretty much limited to the Windsor area, where several homes sustaned damage.
- The Grove area of James City County south of Williamsburg was hardest hit in that area.
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4:30 p.m. update
Not everyone is happy about all the attention paid to Gloucester Sunday. Many stretches of road are filled with onlookers snapping photos of the damage.
Jim Concio said people had been casually walking on his property to see the damage and take photographs.
"This is ridiculous," Concio ,49, said. "It's like a tourist destination."
A tree fell on his home and several were down in his yard.
But Anna Wimbish whose home sustained minor damage said most of the onlookers were looking to help.
"People do what people do," she said. "This doesn't happen all the time. I told them they could park here."
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1:15 p.m. update
Gloucester Sheriff Steve Gentry said Sunday that the identities of the three people killed by the tornado that struck Gloucester Saturday evening will not be released until family notifications are made.
At a press conference at Gloucester High School, Gentry said that traffic has become an issue, especially on Route 17 and asked members of the public to avoid “rubberneckin”.
Hundreds of cars were passing by Hickory Fork Road and Cedar Bush Road with county residents surveying the extensive damage. “We have a lot of people coming for the wrong reason,” Gentry said. Gentry said that right now the department does not need any more volunteers but that in the days to come more help may be needed.
After a helicopter tour authorities now believe a single tornado struck Gloucester County Saturday evening ,ripping across an 8.5 mile stretch through Coke, Glen Roy and Ware Neck . Gentry said the twister started on the ground and skipped several times, wreaking havoc throughout the county.
Ben Kiser, superintendent of Gloucester County Public Schools said that all schools would be closed Monday for the county. Kiser said that several scenarios were being considered for students at Page Middle School, including dispersing more than 580 students at several different schools. Kiser said the preferred option would be to keep students together with their teachers.
Kiser said despite the hardships, he remained optimistic. “That’s who Gloucester is, we’re a resilient people. Our famiies are strong,” Kiser said.
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12:35 p.m. update
Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in response to yesterday’s severe weather across the Commonwealth, authorizing state agencies to assist local efforts in response and recovery efforts.
Said McDonnell: "Administration officials are traveling today to areas of impact to assess damage and assist local recovery efforts. In the days after the tornados in Pulaski, we saw hundreds of Virginians come together to aid their fellow citizens who were impacted by the tragedy in the region. I want to thank the brave first responders and state and local officials who have moved swiftly to begin the recovery process following these most recent events.”
Governor McDonnell will be traveling to Gloucester County Sunday or Monday to tour the storm damage and meet with residents, local officials and first responders. Details on the Governor’s visit to Gloucester will be released later today.
A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The Governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time and paperwork needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.
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12:30 P.M. update
All travel lanes of Route 33 in Middlesex County have been closed from North End Road (Route 631) east so Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews can clear debris from the roadway.
Confirmed tornados touched down at approximately 7 p.m. on Saturday evening in Gloucester and Middlesex counties causing downed trees and power lines.
Message boards have been posted west of the road barricades, at Stampers Bay Road (Route 630), to inform motorists of the closure. Motorists will be turned around at Stampers Bay Road unless they reside between Stampers Bay Road and North End Road.
Vehicle traffic is being temporarily restricted to allow VDOT work crews and Dominion Virginia Power to clear travel lanes on Route 33 and the surrounding roadways.
Crews are also working to clear debris from multiple primary and secondary roads in the neighboring counties.
Virginia State Police is providing traffic control at the road closure site.
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Gloucester County officials are preparing to brief the public and the media on the state of the country following Saturday night's tornado.
We'll have the information here as soon as it is available.
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11:25 a.m. update
Gloucester County resident Roger Hogge and his fiance Lisa Van Dyke were watching a movie Satureay night when they heard the storm hitting near their home on Cedar Bush Road. Lisa got up to see the wind pick up and warned Roger.
When his son Jesse,13, came in the room, they heard the noise most people reported, the sound of a freight train.
They bunkered down in the tub.
"The house started skipping " Van Dyke said. Her face was smashed against the wall.
The house moved 30 yards away.
The family was happy to be alive.
"I've been smiling since it happened," Hogge said. "Im the luckiest man alive."
The movie they had been watching: Deliverance with Burt Reynolds.
"I've watched that movie a dozen times but it will never have the same ending," Hogge said.
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11:10 a.m. update
Busch Gardens is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Route 60 south of Busch Gardens had been closed since last night because of storm damage, but it is now open again.
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10:25 a.m. update
The Hickory Fork Road area in Gloucester was hit hard, with multiple houses sustaining heavy damage.
Shirley Niles 56, along with her daughter Stormi ,24, said they heard a what sounded like a freight train and ran toward the bathroom.
"It took 8 seconds," Shirley Niles said. When they came out they had a gaping hole in the roof. "Don't mess with mother nature," she said.
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9:55 a.m. update
Angela Byrd-Wright, assistant principal at Page Middle School in Gloucester said that the classes would be canceled on Monday.
"The safety of the building, and our students will be the top priority." Byrd-Wright said that parents should check the county school website for information on school
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9:20 a.m. update:
Preliminary estimates in Isle of Wight County show 22 houses damaged, most in the Windsor area, and one home destroyed.
Officials also said four of the 22 suffered significant damage and put the early estimate at $800,000.
A shelter has been opened at Trinity United Methodist Church in Smithfield. For information, call 838-7320.
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9 a.m. update:
Page Middle School in Gloucester County looked like a bomb had exploded on scene Sunday morning.
Piles of debris, brick, chain-link fence school supplies and other items were strewn across the adjacent field. Several buses overturned.
Stephen Patton, food services director for Gloucester Public Schools sifted through materials near a desk sitting beside the tennis court. “This used to be my office,” Patton,53 ,said. His car stood a few yards away on its side, windows shattered. His high school and college yearbooks that he kept in his office had also been damaged. “I shouldn’t have kept these here,” he said.
Page Middle School had extensive damage spread throughout most of the building.
Patton said he saw what may have been an animal carcass in the field near the middle school.
Captain James Gilsinan with Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue said that the department had been called out over concerns some of the overturned buses would catch fire. “ We’ll help out today wherever we’re called,” he said.
Sheriff Gentry will host a press conference at noon at Gloucester High School to discuss recovery efforts.
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Three people were killed and more than 60 were injured when a tornado cut a mile-wide path across Gloucester County Saturday, said Gloucester Sheriff Steve Gentry.
"Several homes were leveled," Gentry said during a press conference Saturday night. Much of the damage was in the Ware Neck, Glen Roy Estates and Waverly Lane communities.
The deaths reportedly were in the town of Coke, located just west of Route 17, about halfway between Gloucester Point and Gloucester Court House.
The tornado was part of a band that moved across the region Saturday night, tearing the roof off a school and overturning buses in Gloucester, and wiping out at least three houses in Deltaville.
Although the county was doing a flyover Saturday night, Gentry said it would be Sunday before they can get a damage assessment.
Roadways were closed across the region and power lines snapped and injuries reported.
The most significant damage was reported in Gloucester and Middlesex counties, where sheriff's dispatchers from both counties said they were flooded with calls. No details on other injuries were available late Saturday.
The storm ripped the roof off Page Middle School and destroyed the back side of the building. High winds flipped over several school buses, knocked cars off the road and may have trapped residents in the Cedar Bush Road area.
Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester saw 17 patients come in between 8:45 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday with storm-related injuries ranging from bumps and bruises to very severe injuries, said spokesman Peter Glagola.
An emergency shelter was set up at Bellamy Church in Gloucester.
Dominion Virginia Power is reporting power is out in the Millwood Estates area. Southbound Route 17 is blocked off before the T.C. Walker Road intersection and traffic on Hickory Fork Road is being turned around prior to the Route 17 intersection. Motorists heading south toward York County and Newport News on Route 17 are being diverted through West Point.
James City County/Williamsburg
Severe thunderstorms and possibly a funnel cloud damaged homes and downed trees and power lines in James City County, injuring one person.
Chief Bob Ryalls of the James City County Fire Department said dispatchers began receiving calls at 6:58 p.m. about damage in the Grove area of the county. Ryalls said the department suspects a tornado touched down, but could not confirm it. About 10 to 15 homes had significant damage and power was out in several areas, he said.
Areas reporting damage included lower Grove and lower Kingsmill, parts of Pocahontas Trail and Magruder Avenue and parts of Route 143.
Power lines were reported down at Country Village Mobile Home Park.
Ryalls said the fire department responded to one injury. The person was transported to Williamsburg Sentara Medical Center, but additional information about the patient's condition was not known.
As of 9:30 p.m., Route 60 was closed between the Busch Gardens flyover and the Newport News city line. Ryalls said crews were out checking damage.
James City County Fire Station 2 on Pocahontas Trail is currently being used as shelter. The Red Cross is helping displaced residents.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight Sheriff's Department received several reports of funnel cloud sightings between 7 and 9 p.m., all in the Windsor, Walters and Carrsville communities, dispatchers said. A mobile home outside Smithfield was damaged.
The storm knocked down trees across two secondary roads in the county, said Surry County Sheriff's dispatchers.
Dominion Virginia Power reported that 25,000 customers were without power in Hampton Roads as of 9 p.m. Saturday. In the Gloucester and Northern Neck area, 13,000 customers were without power because of a transmission line failure, Dominion spokesperson Dan Genest said. On the Peninsula, 2,700 customers were affected, Suffolk had 8,800 without power and in Williamsburg 4,700 customers were affected.
Genest said crews were out Saturday night to repair outages that were "fast and quick to do" and patrolling the region to see other damage and assess what needed to be done to "clean it up.". Genest said that Dominion is "hoping to have most everyone back up by Sunday night, but there may be people that fall over into Monday."
He added that the Outer Banks did not suffer any outages as a result of Saturday's storm.
The Virginia State Police were investigating at least 17 weather-related accidents across the region, including reports that a wave crashed onto the ferry and damaged vehicles crossing between Jamestown and Surry.
The brutal spring storm also raged across North Carolina, flattening businesses and homes, leaving officials with an unknown number of casualties from a system that already was blamed for killing 17 people in four states.
North Carolina officials said there were multiple fatalities, including two deaths in Bertie County, and they were working to confirm the exact number. In South Carolina, a church with six people inside collapsed after it was hit by a tornado, but no one was injured.
Police in Raleigh evacuated residents at a mobile park, and emergency crews went door-to-door looking for people injured or trapped by the storm that flipped mobile homes from one side of the street to the other.
Guillermo Villela, 34, said he saw two young children at the park trapped under fallen trees.
In the town of Sanford in central North Carolina, what could have been a deadly catastrophe was averted when a Lowe's hardware store manager who saw the approaching storm and corralled over 100 people to the back of the store.
The front of Lowe's was flattened by the storm, with cars in the parking lot tossed around and flipped on their roofs.
"It was really just a bad scene," said Jeff Blocker, Lowe's regional vice president for eastern North Carolina. "You're just amazed that no one was injured."
Staff writers Samieh Shalash, Austin Bogues, Matt Sabo, Andi Petrini, Cathy Grimes and the Williamsburg Gazette contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun