SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Virginia State Police confirmed that a 2-year-old boy, a 26-year-old man and a 50-year-old man were killed in the Town of Waverly after a severe storm hit the area Wednesday afternoon.
During a press conference just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sgt. Michelle Anaya with Virginia State Police said they have three confirmed fatalities. Police have not released the victims’ names.
As of now, the exact number of residents displaced or injured is not confirmed, but at least eight others have been reported injured, according to Anaya.
Virginia State Police said there were reports in the area of seeing a funnel cloud. The National Weather Service says the Waverly tornado was the only confirmed twister, but it’s suspected several others may have touched down.
Tornado damage was reported in Waverly not long after a tornado warning was issued Wednesday afternoon.
The witness accounts are terrifying. “First we see the sparks from the power lines … all we could do is hold on to each other and pray,” Desmond Gardner told 8News sister station WAVY-TV 10. “It just shook the trailer like it was picking it up. I can’t explain it. It was bad. I would never want to do that again,” said Melvin Cole.
He added that it didn’t last long, but that it felt like forever.
“It touched back down on the mobile homes and picked back up again. It blew one of them across 460,” witness Sharon Faison recalled.
State Police began responding to incidents of severe storm damage, just before 3 p.m, which covered a three-mile radius of debris, said Anaya.
Due to significant debris from the storm, much of Route 460 and Route 40 is impassable. There are also reports of flooding and high water in this area. In the meantime, motorists are advised for their safety to delay/avoid travel through that immediate area.
State Police say at least five structures in the town were damaged.
Just before 7 p.m., WAVY News 10’s Liz Kilmer on scene said State Police, Fire and EMS officials have been temporarily suspended from combing through wreckage as officials watch a second storm in Waverly.
Virginia State Police also imposed a 7:30 p.m. on the town for Wednesday. Sgt. Michelle Anaya said people were told to stay in their homes so search and rescue teams could go door to door to see if anyone was missing. The curfew will remain in effect until further notice.
A command center was set up in a shopping center at 460 and Maifield, but that original command center became too full and was later moved to Prince George Electric at 7103 General Mahone Highway/Route 460.
“There’s no words to describe what happened here. You are kind of dumbfounded, you don’t know what to say, what to do, tomorrow is going to be even worse because we have to assess the damage and see if we can get things back in order again,” said Bryan Reid.
Crews will be working all through the night to comb through debris and make sure everyone is accounted for.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be touring the damaged areas of Waverly as well as Appomattox in the aftermath of the severe weather.