Tornadoes, flooding kill at least 7 in Virginia

John, right, and Allison Cougill, talk to a reporter in the remains of their river cottage after a tornado that swept through the area Saturday night in Deltaville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Sunday, April 17)

 

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UPDATE Monday, April 18 @ 8:30 a.m.: The National Weather Service has confirmed that five tornados hit Virginia, in Augusta, Dinwiddie, Gloucester, Halifax, and Rockbridge counties, over the weekend causing major damage.

Preliminary reports indicate that 332 structures were damaged, 35 destroyed, and 122 severely damaged, as a result of yesterday’s storms.

Damage assessments will continue today.

UPDATE 3:31 p.m.: The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least two tornadoes hit Virginia Saturday, one in Augusta County and one in Dinwiddie County.

And the Surry Nuclear Power Station gave notice Saturday night of an "unusual event" due to extended loss of offsite power supply. The plant is in Surry County in southeastern Virginia.

UPDATE: Seven deaths have been reported. One in Page County, three in Gloucester County, two in Waynesboro City, and one in Wythe County.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed four as storm related: one in Gloucester County, two in Waynesboro City, and one in Wythe County.

The number of confirmed weather related deaths will change as information becomes available.

ABC7 and TBD.com will update as we get more information.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Tornadoes and flash flooding have left at least six people dead in Virginia, and crews are continuing to assess damage that severe weekend storms caused across several areas of the state.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Sunday declared a state of emergency, authorizing state agencies to assist local efforts in response and recovery efforts.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner said Sunday that three people died and scores suffered injuries in

Gloucester County, where a tornado cut through a 12-mile swath, uprooting trees and destroying homes. Gloucester officials said the tornado ripped the roof off Page Middle School and destroyed part of the building, as well as overturned school buses and cars. Middle school officials announced that classes would be canceled Monday.

Gloucester resident Randy Cook was walking through the debris on Sunday. He said his sister's home blew off its foundation Saturday night, but she and her two children were lucky to survive.

"She said she'd put her kids in the bathtub and got on top of them," he said in a telephone interview. "The tornado blew the house off the foundation, and everything in the house shattered, and is flattened to the ground."

Cook's sister, Christie Mathews, broke two vertebrae and her son and daughter escaped with scratches, he said. Her boyfriend, who also was in the house when the tornado struck, was flown to a Newport News hospital, where he underwent surgery, Cook said.

The winds apparently lifted the house off its foundation, tossed it at least 50 yards, and flung it against several trees that blocked it from traveling farther.

Dominion Virginia Power said Sunday that its Surry County power plant is using an off-site power source and backup diesel generators to provide electricity to maintain both units at its Surry Power Station. An apparent tornado touched down on the switchyard supporting the plant, cutting off the electrical connection from the power grid to the station, Dominion said.

"The apparent tornado did not strike the two nuclear units, which are designed to withstand natural events such as tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes," the company said in a release. No injuries were reported, and Dominion reported the issue to federal nuclear regulators as well as state officials.

Neighboring areas such as James City, Isle of Wight and Middlesex counties also experienced heavy damage.

The National Weather Service also reported at least one tornado touched down Saturday in Dinwiddie County. No injuries were reported.

Spieldenner says that farther west, flash flooding killed two people in Waynesboro, and prompted other water rescues. Officials reported flooding along the northern Interstate 81 corridor, including flash floods in Warren and Page counties. Emergency management officials say one person was reported dead in Page County.

Dominion Virginia Power reported that tens of thousands of households lost electricity through the night, but that number fell to about 6,600 by mid-day Sunday. Most remaining outages were in the Gloucester and Northern Neck regions.

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