Storm pounds Suffolk

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A portion of an exterior wall at Ferguson Manufacturing Co. collapsed onto employee Wayne Carter’s car in the wake of a fierce storm Tuesday. Throughout the city, emergency crews were dealing with trees blown down into houses and onto cars, wires down and more.

When a violent storm blew through Suffolk on Tuesday afternoon, Constance Woods-area resident Lou Rachel Eure thought it sounded like a tree coming through her roof.

In fact, that’s exactly what had happened to her and several others in the city during the storm, which struck around 5 p.m.

A tree totaled a car parked in a backyard on Butler Avenue during the storm. It also tore down power lines at the home.

One branch of the tree lying on top of Eure’s house had penetrated the roof and pointed straight down at the television set, which she had covered with plastic tarp quickly after making the discovery.

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All over the city, residents spent Tuesday evening cleaning up after a line of severe thunderstorms barreled through the area.

City officials reported that damage to homes in the 4200 block of Dayle Acres Road appeared as if a tornado touched down there. The road intersects with Nansemond Parkway near the Chesapeake city line.

However, the National Weather Service has not yet confirmed a tornado in that area, said Mike Rusnak, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Wakefield office. He said personnel could visit the area today to examine the damage.

“What we have confirmed is a lot of wind damage from what we call straight-line thunderstorm winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour,” he said.

Trees had fallen into at least half a dozen homes throughout the city by the time the storm passed. Lightning struck a house on Bob White Lane, and a handful of brush fires broke out throughout the city. A tree fell into the windshield of a moving car in the 3800 block of Whaleyville Boulevard. Several roads, including Wilroy Road, Godwin Boulevard and portions of U.S. Route 58, were closed while crews cleaned up trees and power lines.

John Jory had just arrived home and pulled into his backyard on Murphy’s Mill Road when a tree crashed onto his house.

Lou Rachel Eure shows off the limb that poked through the roof in her Constance Woods-area home during a storm on Tuesday.

“The wind almost bent the trees down to the ground,” he said. “The wind just got so fierce it just popped it right off.”

At Ferguson Manufacturing on Madison Avenue, a portion of an outside wall collapsed onto two employees’ cars. One man’s truck had minimal damage, but a co-workers’ car was destroyed.

“You couldn’t see across the street, it was raining so hard,” employee Chris Burton said. He surmised that strong winds had weakened and toppled the wall.

In the Riverview neighborhood, a tree blocked one street, and another tree had fallen onto a car in a backyard on Butler Avenue. A plethora of pinecones littered the neighborhood streets.

A transformer that blew on North Main Street resulted in the evacuation of the Long John Silver’s restaurant. A small fire started in the grass in front of the restaurant when a wire fell.

Like most of downtown, City Hall also lost power, city spokeswoman Debbie George said. The building operated on generator power for part of the evening.

“It’s all hands on deck,” George said. “Everybody has been doing what they needed to do.”

According to Rusnak, more storms were expected Tuesday night, and more are forecast for today and tomorrow. However, those storms likely will not be as severe as Tuesday’s storm, he said.