Virginia Tornado Damage Rises

October 17, 2011

New Kent County, Va., officials said Friday twice as many homes were damaged by a tornado that struck Thursday than they originally thought.

New Kent County was one of three areas of the state where suspected tornados struck, along with Quantico and Louisa County.

County officials spent Friday assessing the damage and found about 30 homes were damaged by the storm, including five that were a complete loss, according to Krista Eutsey, executive assistant to the New Kent County administrator. On Thursday, they said about a dozen homes were damaged.

Most of the damaged homes were in the Woodhaven Shores subdivision, where numerous trees and power lines were knocked down.

“There’s a definite path through the subdivision,” said Eutsey, who toured the area.

Residents spent the day removing debris and helping reopen roads as power crews worked to restore electricity to more than 150 customers.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Lyle Alexander said preliminary information shows the tornado that struck New Kent County had 95 mph winds and was 200 yards wide. The storm also damaged an elementary school roof and blew out two windows, but the school was able to open on time Friday.

“We were very fortunate we were able to get a work crew in last night. They began working last evening and finished up the roof repair work this morning, so there was no internal damage to the school and everybody seemed excited to be there,” said Nate Collins, executive director of instruction for New Kent County Schools.

Woodhaven Shores is a lakefront neighborhood that was also hit hard during Hurricane Irene, Eutsey said.

Thursday’s tornado was yet another stroke of misfortune for Louisa County, the rural community that was at the epicenter of an Aug. 23 5.8-magnitude earthquake. It also was affected by Hurricane Irene.

Last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down Virginia’s application for federal assistance for individuals whose homes or businesses were damaged in the tremor. Gov. Bob McDonnell has said uninsured property damage estimates from the quake exceed $15 million. He plans to appeal the decision.

On Thursday, a funnel cloud ripped into an historic plantation house in the county, ripping off its roof and causing other damage.

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