Three tornadoes ripped through Virginia on Monday, with one hopscotching across the southeastern part of the state and leaving a 25-mile trail of gutted homes, tossed cars and more than 200 injured people.
Residents of some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Suffolk, a town outside Norfolk, were forced to evacuate. Buses took them to nearby shelters.
Downed trees and power lines covered the streets. A tipped-over vending machine leaned against a pile of rubble that had been a store.
“It’s just a bunch of broken power poles, telephone lines and sad faces,” said Richard Allbright, who works for a tree removal service and had been trying to clear the roads.
Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency for the areas of southeastern Virginia struck by the twisters.
The National Weather Service confirmed that tornadoes struck Suffolk, Colonial Heights and Brunswick County. Meteorologist Bryan Jackson described Suffolk’s as a “major tornado.”
Several of Gregory A. Parker’s businesses and his home in Driver, which dates from before the Civil War, were damaged. At one store, a porch blew off. At another, the tin roof rolled up like a sardine can. His home’s facade collapsed.
He was spending the night with his sister, who lives nearby. “I don’t even think a leaf blew off at her house,” he said. “That’s how tornadoes are.”