Tornado confirmed in Suffolk

Published 11:05 am Sunday, May 12, 2019

The National Weather Service in Wakefield has confirmed damage in Suffolk from Saturday evening’s storm was from a tornado, according to a city press release.

The tornado is rated an EF1 with winds from 85 to 90 miles per hour, the press release stated. It tracked about two miles across the city and measured about 200 yards wide.

Susanne Greene was watching television in her River Point residence Saturday evening when the rain and wind picked up momentum outside.

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She said it didn’t sound quite like hail, but something was definitely hitting the walls.

She muted her television. Then she looked outside to see a wall of greenery coming towards the house.

“I thought a tree was coming at my house,” Greene said as she looked at the broken tree limbs in the backyard on Sunday morning, “and then the wind picked up. It sounded like a roar.”

She went into the laundry room for cover during the worst of it, which she said lasted for about 30 seconds before it slowed down to steady, windy rain.

Looking at the debris in the waterfront backyard Sunday morning, she said that she’s grateful. It could have been much worse.

“Damage to our section was minimal compared to other neighbors,” she said.

Rich Kovalik, the president of the homeowners’ association for River Point, took his dog for a walk Sunday morning to survey neighborhood damages. Early that morning, he counted about 21 units that were damaged. Some were just missing shingles; others had their chimneys completely ripped off.

“It’s devastating to see all the trees and everything and torn up buildings,” he said. “But we’re just blessed that we haven’t had any personal injury that I know of.”

According to information from the city, there were no injuries.

MacArthur Drive is closed to traffic at Wilroy Road due to low-hanging utility lines and debris removal that continues.

Damage reports from overnight include:

  • Trees and power pole down and chimney and roof damages in the 100 block of River Point Drive
  • Trees and power lines down in the 190 block of South Main Street
  • Tree on a house in the 1000 block of Nansemond Parkway
  • Trees down at Oak Street and Collie Avenue
  • Trees down at Myrick Avenue and Ben Street
  • Minor to moderate damage to trees on Florida Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Alabama Avenue and Hollywood Avenue

Anyone experiencing damages should contact non-emergency dispatch at 923-2350.

The Suffolk Department of Community Development said Sunday afternoon that residential damage assessments from the EF-1 tornado include 18 affected structures, eight with minor damage, seven with major damage and one structure – a shed – destroyed.

Six businesses have been affected, and one sustained minor damage, according to a city news release.

There was damages to siding or shingles missing, according to a city news release.

The Department of Public Works has relaxed bulk refuse regulations for the downtown areas immediately affected by Saturday’s tornado. Requirements with the amount of the debris will be relaxed for two weeks beginning Monday, and bulk collections for readily identifiable storm material will not count against the 12 annual bulk collections.

All regulations concerning the disposal of prohibited materials are still in effect. Residents with questions should call Public Works, Refuse at 514-7630.