SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Residents of Waverly, Virginia are looking to pick up the pieces after a deadly and terrifying storm and a tornado tore through the town Wednesday afternoon, killing three.
During a press conference Wednesday, Sgt. Michelle Anaya with Virginia State Police confirmed three fatalities, but did not release the names of the victims.
Family members of the victims confirmed their names to 10 On Your Side’s Jason Marks Thursday: 26-year-old Devine Stringfield, 50-year-old Larry Turner and 2-year-old Ian Lewis. The family has set up a GoFundMe, click here for more information.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be touring the damaged areas of Waverly as well as Appomattox in the aftermath of the severe weather. He is scheduled to visit Appomattox County first, before going Waverly at 1 p.m. and Essex County at 2:25 p.m.
10 On Your Side’s Erin Kelly plans to be there to cover to governor’s visit in Waverly.
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.
Survey teams with the National Weather Service will be assessing the damage and confirming any additional tornadoes Thursday.
Tornado damage was reported in Waverly not long after a tornado warning was issued Wednesday afternoon.
Chopper 10 flew above the damage Thursday morning, showing the extensive damage the storm caused across the town.
Several houses have had roofing and walls completely ripped off, other homes which were completely leveled and numerous trees were up rooted in the reported tornado.
Witness accounts of the storm depict a terrifying set of events for the town.
“First we see the sparks from the power lines … all we could do is hold on to each other and pray,” Desmond Gardner told WAVY.com. “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.
Witness Sharon Faison recalled, “It touched back down on the mobile homes and picked them back up again. It blew one of them across 460.”
10 On Your Side received a video taken at the Intersection of 460, near a McDonald’s in Waverly, which shows substantial damage from the storm.
“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.
State Police began responding to incidents of severe storm damage, just before 3 p.m, which covered a three-mile radius of debris.
Due to significant debris from the storm, much of Route 460 and Route 40 was deemed impassable. There are also reports of flooding and high water in this area. Motorists were being advised for their safety to avoid travel through that immediate area.
State Police say at least five structures in the town were damaged.
Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, 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.
State Police also imposed a 7:30 p.m. curfew on the town for Wednesday. 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 be in place again Thursday from 7 p.m. until the morning hours.
A command center was set up in a shopping center at 460 and Maifield.
Crews worked all through the night to comb through debris and ensure everyone is accounted for.
Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard have been deployed Thursday to help emergency crews across the Commonwealth with the clean-up effort.
Stay tuned to WAVY News on air and online for the latest from Waverly.