SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Significant damage was reported throughout Suffolk on Tuesday after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the area and spawned at least one tornado.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down Tuesday in the area of the 100 block of Saratoga Street in Downtown Suffolk just before 3:45 a.m. causing damage to multiple businesses on West Washington Street and Fire Station 1 on Market Street.
There is also a suspected tornado that touched down in the area Cedar Street, West Constance Road, County Street and in the Riverview neighborhood. Trees also came down across multiple roadways in the area.
In downtown, the rear back wall for the second and third floor of the Knight Financial building collapsed. Piles of brick, wood and twisted aluminum roofing littered the parking lot.
At the neighboring Brandon House furniture store, more than two dozen display windows were blown in with pieces of roof and insulation scattered about around the immediate area.
“This is heartbreaking,” said Brandon Carter, a third-generation owner. “It pulled our roof back. A lot of water damage. A lot of furniture damage.”
Crews quickly got to work boarding up windows and removing furniture to the store’s clearance building across the street.
“We’re gonna prevail, thank the lord,” Carter said. “We got another building next door so we’ll probably end up moving next door but we’ll still be open, we’ll just have to remodel.”
Over on Saratoga Street, the building that houses the Suffolk News Herald had its front windows blown out after the winds blew through the back. By Tuesday evening, the glass still littered the roadway.
Several of the owners of the damaged businesses, ironically enough, live in the neighborhood that also saw Isaias’ wrath.
“We heard a a major boom sound that woke us up immediately and we started downstairs once we saw out the window what was going on. It was scary,” said Al Scalcup, who lives in the Riverview neighborhood.
Neighbors there tell 10 On Your Side the period of destruction only seemed to last about 15 seconds, but daylight revealed the severity of the situation.
Roofs had been stripped from houses, and toppled trees landed on cars and homes. The family inside one badly damaged home said they were heading for the basement when a tree came crashing through their roof.
“It was more like thumping and hitting the house and shaking and then I screamed for my husband and he started running towards where I was. At that point, glass was breaking,” said Troy Rapoport. “I couldn’t believe it. Honestly, the destruction is worse than I imagined from the experience.”
No injuries were reported as a result of the storm in Suffolk.
The emergency shelter at King’s Fork High at 351 Kings Fork Road opened after the storm and remained open until 1 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said no citizens sought shelter or other assistance at that location.
West Washington Street at Main Street to Pine Street, as well as Saratoga Street at West Washington Street to Smith Street, will be closed until further notice. Public Works has placed detour signage in these areas.
Sidewalks in several areas are also closed, however, businesses that were not directly impacted remain open.
Citizens can call 514-7600 to report non-emergency roadway issues.
Other areas hit by tornadoes included James City County, Courtland, Suffolk and Gloucester County in Virginia, and Bertie County in North Carolina, where at least two people were killed by two tornadoes. No fatalities due to Isaias had been reported in Virginia as of Tuesday afternoon.
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