Multiple homes and businesses damaged; city opens emergency shelter

Published 6:20 am Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Suffolk Police and Suffolk Fire & Rescue are working multiple incidents involving downed trees on residences and across roadways across much of Suffolk, according to a city press release. No injuries have been reported at this time.

Emergency Communications was notified at 3:44 a.m. of a possible tornado that touched down in the 100 block of Saratoga Street in the downtown Suffolk area.  Fire Station 1, located at Market Street, sustained damage including broken windows and power lines down.

A residence at Cedar Street sustained damage when a tree fell on the residence, displacing 12 individuals, including two juveniles.


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Multiple residences in the Riverview neighborhood sustained damage from downed trees, including a tree across a residence at Dumville Avenue.

Trees also fell on residences in the 300 block of West Constance Road and the 500 block of County Street.

Multiple businesses in the downtown Suffolk area, including Knight Financial, Brandon House and the Suffolk News-Herald office, suffered damage to their buildings.

Public Works crews are also working multiple locations for trees down across the roadway, including the 1400 block of Carolina Road and Route 58 Eastbound at the Regional Landfill.

The city has opened the emergency shelter at King’s Fork High School, located at 351 Kings Fork Road. The shelter is ADA compliant, and fully generator powered for citizens who are medically dependent on electricity. Emergency shelters should be considered a means of last resort once all other safe options have been exhausted.

Important information regarding rules, what to bring, prohibited items and more are noted below:

Evacuation Shelter Rules

  • Due to COVID-19, citizens should bring their own face masks and practice social distancing while in the shelter.
  • You must sign in before being officially admitted into any shelter.
  • “Shelter hopping” is not permitted.
  • You are responsible for your belongings. Valuables should always be locked in your car or kept with you. The shelter is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items.
  • Parents are responsible for controlling the actions of and knowing the whereabouts of their children. Children should not be left unattended.
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medications, please notify the shelter registrar for referral to the nurse.
  • Noise levels should be kept at a minimum during all hours of the day. Quiet hours are observed between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Please do your best to keep the shelter as neat and orderly possible.

What to Bring to a Shelter

Be sure to bring enough supplies to last at least five days (increased from three days for this event) for each family member.

  • bottled water
  • manual can opener and cooler
  • portable flashlight and batteries
  • folding chairs
  • cot/sleeping bag/blanket and pillow
  • first aid kit and any medications
  • ID, car keys, credit cards and cash
  • photocopies of important papers (i.e. insurance policies)
  • canned/packaged food
  • disposable plates, cups, utensils, etc.
  • battery powered radio, TV
  • change of comfortable clothing and shoes
  • quiet games, toys, books, cards
  • toiletries, glasses/contacts, hearing aids and dentures
  • special-diet foods
  • baby supplies (i.e. food/formula, diapers, etc.)

Prohibited Items

  • alcohol, drugs, other illegal substances
  • pets (except assistance dogs)
  • loud radios or televisions
  • smoking, matches, lighters
  • weapons of any kind (guns, knives, chains, etc.)

When to consider going to a shelter

  • You live in an evacuation zone where there likely will be flooding
  • You live in a mobile home or trailer
  • You know your building is unsafe and you cannot repair it before the storm
  • You use life-support equipment that requires electricity

If none of these conditions apply to you, you should think about staying put and fortifying your home, something experts call “sheltering in place.” However, if your house is not prepared and fortified or windows or doors are not properly covered, even the weaker winds at the perimeter of a hurricane can cause serious damage.

Citizens should exercise extreme caution on the roadways and are reminded not to attempt to drive across areas with downed power lines or in areas where roadways are covered with water, as the depth is hard to determine in dark conditions.

The Emergency Operations Call Center can be reached at 514-4570 and remains staffed for citizens seeking storm-related information for this weather event.  The Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number is 923-2350, and the number for non-emergency roadway-related issues is 514-7600.