SUFFOLK—A tornado touched down multiple times in Suffolk on Monday, causing widespread damage and leaving more than 200 people injured.
The tornado struck just after 4 p.m., damaging Sentara Obici Hospital and wrecking nearby subdivisions and a shopping center.
The tornado cut a swath of devastation through Driver, wiping out historic landmarks.
Suffolk Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Judkins described the twister as a "major disaster."
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine declared a state of emergency, directing state agencies to take all necessary action to aid in the response to widespread damage from the severe weather.
Agencies assisting include the Virginia departments of Emergency Management, Marine Resources and Transportation and the Virginia State Police.
The tornado swept trees onto homes, blocked roads and pushed cars on top of one another.
At least 200 people were injured throughout the state, with the Suffolk area and Colonial Heights near Richmond the two areas that were most severely affected.
The Burnetts Mill neighborhood in Suffolk was subject to a mandatory evacuation Monday afternoon just after 5 p.m., after the tornado wrecked homes, caused a gas leak and knocked out power.
Jon Mark Menta, who lives in the neighborhood, said the north side of the subdivision had been hit hardest.
Residents were bused to an emergency shelter that was set up at King's Fork High School.
George said at least one tornado had touched down on the Route 10 corridor near Route 58.
"There is severe damage to homes and vehicles and property in the Hillpoint Farms neighborhood and Burnetts Mill," George said.
"We have houses down, a strip shopping center has been damaged, along with numerous vehicles."
Scenes of devastation were reported at the shopping plaza on Route 10 and Route 58, which was wrecked, while cars in the parking lot were reported to be on top of one another in the wake of the storm.
The two roads were blocked for much of the night as state police from all over Virginia arrived to help while trees and abandoned and wrecked vehicles were removed.
Sentara Obici spokeswoman Cheri Hinshelwood said the vast majority of those arriving had minor injuries and were expected to be treated and released from the hospital. More serious injuries included one head injury and one chest injury.
Although the hospital was hit and a wall knocked down by the parking lot, the hospital remained operational throughout the storm, she said: "The hospital building itself sustained very minor damage to a handful of windows, which were cracked during the storm."