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Storm knocks out power, takes down trees

Clarence Copeland knew what the crash was as soon as he heard it.

“That’s got to be that pecan tree,” he said when he heard the noise at the onset of yesterday’s severe thunderstorm.

He and his wife, Janice, looked out the window and confirmed his suspicion – the pecan tree that had been in their back yard was now all over their side yard and front yard. Nobody in the family was harmed, though they can’t say the same for the house.

The tree knocked out two windows on the side of the house and took down a section of gutter on the front, as well as their cable and phone wires. It managed, however, to miss the power lines and a window air conditioning unit near the broken windows.

“I’m blessed,” Janice Copeland said. The family suspects the tree was struck by lightning, judging from its sharp break about 10 feet up the trunk and the bark peeled away from the tree in several places.

“I’m not getting any more pecans,” Copeland said, laughing, to friends who had stopped by to check on her.

Across Suffolk, the storm knocked out power to thousands of residents and blew plenty of branches and rain around the city. The National Weather Service in Wakefield warned of gusting winds, nickel-sized hail, lightning and heavy rains. Winds of 10 mph were reported at Suffolk Municipal Airport immediately after the storm, although there was no report during the storm. The storm caused some spot flooding and trees down throughout the city, said Debbie George, city spokeswoman.

In South Hampton Roads, about 11,000 people lost power, a fraction of the 685,000 customers. Several thousand of them were in Suffolk. Crews from the city and utilities were working to repair the damages. Girl Scout Road was closed throughout the evening as crews worked there.

At Constant’s Wharf, the storm damaged the portable stage and several tents used for events at the park.