Homeowners have started the rebuilding process after a tornado touched down in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake on Friday, March 31.
Virginia needed rain badly. Less than average rainfall this winter plunged many parts of Northern Virginia into a drought. However, the storm that many were cheering turned violent on the evening of Friday, March 31 as a tornado touched down in the Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area.
By all definitions, it was a small tornado. However, that is little solace to the dozen homeowners who lost their houses. The Virginia Beach Fire Department confirmed that 50 to 60 homes were damaged and at least 12 had to be condemned late Friday evening.
The tornado ripped the siding off of houses, cracked windshields, and even lifted the roof clear off of a Landstown High School field house.
Emergency officials are just thankful that no one was injured. "It's a miracle," proclaimed Art Kohn, who is with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.
As is the case with tornados, not every home was damaged. Some looked untouched while others were missing entire exterior walls.
Jennifer Mingo was in her home when the tornado touched down. All of a sudden, her bedroom window came crashing in, the glass cutting her arms and legs. Because of the air pressure, she struggled to get the bedroom door open. Within moments, the room's side wall had peeled away, fully exposing Jennifer to the storm's violent winds.
She took cover behind a reclining chair that seemed heavy and stable enough. She watched as the storm pulled her belongings out of the house. Towels and clothing were the first to blow away but as the wind picked up, Jennifer watched her bedroom television, mattress, and even box spring get sucked out of the house.
The wind was so strong that it actually pulled the floor tiles up in her bedroom, leaving nothing but exposed plywood.
"I'm still shaking from it," Jennifer Mingo told a local reporter early Saturday morning, "I just thought it was my time."
The Real Life Christian Church in nearby Chesapeake was also badly damaged by the storm/tornado. About half of the building was completely destroyed. James Green, a church member, was on the scene late Friday night while Firefighters tried to clear downed power lines from the church.
He said that the damage was devastating but he was sure that "God is going to take care of it."
Church elder Chris Goodwin said that the congregation is already looking for a temporary location. By his estimates, the church building was a total loss. When asked how the church was going to find the money to rebuild, Goodwin let out a chuckle and reiterated Green's point. "The good Lord will figure that part out.”