Windsor recovers as damage assessed

Published 9:59 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

What's believed to have been a tornado ripped off the second story of Louise Taylor's home in Walters.

By Dale Liesch

The Tidewater News

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service confirmed Monday the storms Saturday that destroyed four homes in Isle of Wight County and damaged 25 were tornados.

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A survey team will be in the county to confirm it in the next few days, said Rick Curry from the NWS office in Wakefield.

Meanwhile, power had been restored on Monday to most of the area served by the Chuckatuck district office, which includes Isle of Wight County, said Dominion Virginia Power spokesman Karl Neddenien. A total of 44,000 customers lost power in the Tidewater region as a result of the storms. Of that total, 73 customers were still without power Monday morning.

Neddenien said that in some cases power poles were completely missing due to the storms.

Louise T. Taylor was among those whose home was damaged from the storm. Taylor said she heard strong winds and driving rain as she sought refuge in a downstairs bathroom of her home on Walters Highway near Windsor at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. It wasn’t until Taylor poked her head out that she realized there was a problem with her home.

A tornado had broken her kitchen window downstairs, but when she went upstairs, she discovered the back portion of the roof on her home of 50 years had been taken off by the storm.

“I heard what I thought was wind and heavy rain,” the 87-year-old said. “I didn’t hear what sounded like a train. I wasn’t thinking about a tornado hitting here, because I’ve been here so long.”

The storm littered Taylor’s once immaculate yard with debris, including the remains of a barn lifted off its foundation. A rental home she owns across the road also was damaged; no one was living there.

Friends and neighbors were there Sunday to help Taylor clean up and provide her with jugs of water.

“I have some good, good neighbors and good friends,” she said. “I’m just a blessed person.”

Taylor’s home, which she believes was built as early as 1871, was damaged, but it was not a complete loss. She expects to rebuild.

Mike Brown, whose home on Trump Town Road between Windsor and Isle of Wight was hit, said he heard what sounded like a freight train coming up the driveway. He looked for his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Lauren.

“By the time I got to them, it was over,” he said. “It couldn’t have lasted more than about 15 seconds.”

No one was injured at Brown’s home, but the storm did considerable damage. He said it blew open the front door, broke front windows and took out a portion of the back of the home, which probably relieved the pressure enough to save the structure.

Brown lost a cinder block garage and three vehicles inside, including two Ford Mustangs.

Brown’s son, Stephen, a student at Virginia Tech, arrived home Sunday to see his family. Brown said the home built in 1902 was insured, and he plans to rebuild.

Irma Morrill, another Trump Town Road resident, said she will not rebuild her five-year-old, two-story home destroyed by Saturday’s storms.

“I’m going to buy a house somewhere else,” she said.

Morrill sought refuge in a small room of the home when the tornado hit. She described falling insulation as snow and said she and her daughter had to dodge a door that was flying down the hallway.

Mike Doggett, a resident of Central Hill Road between Windsor and Isle of Wight, left 30 minutes before the storm hit and came home to a damaged roof, two totaled vehicles, fallen trees and a yard littered with debris.

Among the debris that did not belong to Doggett was a life preserver. Doggett also had two vehicles totaled, including a Crown Victoria with only 20,000 miles.

“It was devastating,” he said.