WARSAW, Va. (WRIC) – An overturned boat in the middle of a field, hundreds of yards away from where it was docked is a snapshot of the devastation at Naylor’s Beach. A place of refuge and peace turned to chaos Wednesday when an EF-3 category tornado struck the area, including surrounding portions of Naylors Beach Road and Strangeway Road.
“Mother nature can throw some really nasty things at you,” said homeowner Penn Burke. “Our houses are destroyed.”
Burke and his family were gathering the remains of the cottage they purchased and began renovating in 1990.
“We’re simply trying to recover all of our mementos and the things that we’ve known,” he told 8News, standing in his dining room under an open sky.
Once filled with decades of memories, their three-story getaway home is now reduced to rubble.
“(The tornado) took two stories off of my house,” Burke said.
Fortunately, Burke and most of his neighbors were away when the tornado struck.
He and nearly a dozen others on the waterfront are now forced to start over.
“They’ve lost everything they’ve worked for,” said Richmond County Sheriff Steve Smith. “This is the worst damage I’ve seen in 20 years since I’ve been with the sheriff’s office.”
Now, homeowners are beginning the task of sifting through the wreckage.
“It’s going to take a long time for this community to get back to where it was,” Sheriff Smith told 8News.
No one was hurt during the storm at Naylor’s beach, although at least six people in the affected area were taking cover inside their homes at the time of the storm. Two women and a young girl became trapped inside their house and had to be rescued. A man and woman hid in the crawlspace of their home, and another man took refuge in a closet as the tornado touched down.
Smith said it could be weeks before all of the debris is collected.