Cleanup begins in Hampton Roads after strong storms

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Severe weather ripped through parts of Hampton Roads Thursday night, leaving a mess for many too clean up Friday.

Trees and power lines were no match for Mother Nature, as winds reached speeds of up to 60 mph, in some places.

The area of Benefit and Johnstown roads in Chesapeake was one of the areas with the most storm damage. Benefit Road was blocked by downed trees and power lines in more than one place. Even by Friday afternoon, the road remained closed at the intersection with Johnstown Road.

When city crews couldn’t get to hard hit areas on Benefit Road, residents rolled up their sleeves and used their chainsaws.

“That’s how it’s always happened,” said Barry Gregory, a longtime resident. “When a tree drops across, somebody grabs a chainsaw and gets it out of the way!”

Gregory’s property had minimal damage compared to his neighbors’ homes. He considers himself lucky.

“I estimated at least 65 miles an hour, maybe more,” said Gregory. “I’ve seen lots of thunderstorms around here over the years and lots of high winds — nothing ever exceeded this.”

Residents without power for more than 24 hours fired up generators. They told WAVY.com they missed hot showers and using their electronic devices. Some were charging cell phones in their vehicles Friday evening.

Virginia Beach was also hit hard by the storm, with about 20,000 customers experiencing power outages at some point throughout the night. WAVY.com spoke to several people who lost power along Princess Anne Road between Holland and Seaboard roads.

“Before I’ve had a light pole go down and its’ caught the whole brush on the backside of me on fire, so I’m thinking not again,” said Colton Byrd. “I woke up sweating, which is not a good start. My brother took the last hot shower.”

“It was crazy all of a sudden,” said Heather Kohlhepp at Heather’s Hair Design. “The storms came in, and the wind was blowing, and the rain was going, and we lost power, and we had to do hair by phone light. The fire trucks were coming in and out for a good hour and a half.  There was one, after the other, after the other.”

MPO Lonnie Cain told WAVY.com there were five lightning strike calls in Virginia Beach during the storm, at the following locations:

  • 5000 block of Virginia Tech Court
  • 1700 block of Legare Lane
  • 1200 block of Swallow Drive
  • 4400 block of Sanibal Circle
  • 2300 block of Haversham Drive
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