VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – When you arrive at the Cortellini home on Haversham Close, you know it is one of the seven homes destroyed by the EF-3 tornado that ripped through Broad Bay Point Greens on April 30.
Charlie Cortellini has lived in the home 34 years and showed us how the house had been moved 10 feet off the foundation by the intense winds of the tornado.
“This is the corner of the foundation before the storm,,” Cortellini said. “The house was sitting on this corner. Now, it is pushed back at least ten feet.”
The image is stunning.
Cortellini led us across the crumpled threshold since the house moved 10 feet.
“The night this happened, the smells of gasoline were putrid because the house got moved back and the main gas lines were broken,” Cortellini said.
As we walked through the kitchen, you could hear us stepping on broken glass, which was everywhere, in almost every room.
“If you look at the garage, you can see where the cement ends,” Cortellini said. “That old garage floor was where the garage door is now.”
He took us to the master bedroom, and what is most stunning – two walls are missing, providing total views of the neighborhood.
“This was where the two dogs were,” Cortellini said. “Milo was running back and forth and (was) saved by an ex-police officer. The other one (was) saved by a firefighter. That one was pinned under a pile of bricks there.”
Then we saw the baseball cards in a room off the master.
“These were my son’s,” Cortellini said. “When he was 10 through 15, we would go to all the trade shows and collect cards.”
You can tell that Charlie Cortellini is a devoted father and husband.
Then he looked up in another room off the master and there was no roof there, either.
“This was the roof,” Cortellini said. “Now you can see the sky. I always wanted a sky light, but I think we went a little bit overboard.”
He also showed us the guest bedroom.
“We got a built-in sky light here too,” he said as he stood in a room with no roof.
He took us down a hall to his daughter’s room.
“From the time she was 8 years old until now, she grew up in this house, and this was her room,” Cortellini said.
The room is thrown about, with nothing in its place.
The walls in the hallway are squeezed together, probably from the house moving off its foundation, by 10 feet.
He took us to his office.
“Here it is; everything is just destroyed,” he said. “I have coached in this area for over 30 years, so there is memorabilia that is just destroyed and broken. It does not exist anymore. Some people say they found some pieces on the golf course, some pieces found in Fort Story.”
Personal effects are lost forever.
“I am a sports fanatic, and I have a signed book from Pat Summitt and Joe Paterno, and they are just gone,” Cortellini said. “Most of the books are ruined, the pictures have been ruined.
The dining room was messed up, the table out of place, littered with debris.
“Every Sunday, we would have dinner here with the kids and the family, and friends joked if it were Sunday, we would be eating here,” he said.
Even with all the debris, you are left with the feeling that a lot of memorable conversation went on at that table.
Charlie took us to the kitchen.
“This was the heart of the house,” he said as the kitchen was littered with debris, and broken glass crunching under our shoes. “This is where everybody was.”
The trashed backyard was visible through the kitchen window.
“The backyard, the pool, the fence columns of brick, fencing that was just knocked down,” Cortellini said.
The one room in the house that had no damage – the half bath.
“It is the one room that has no window where you can escape mother nature’s wrath,” Cortellini said. “It is completely intact. Now if I were here in the house when this happened, and the house moved 10 feet and I was in that bathroom, I don’t know how well my heart would have taken it.”
Cortellini spoke philosophically about what has destroyed a lot of Broad Bay Point Greens.
“My father would say, ‘If you were living in the past, you are dying every day. Life is about today and tomorrow,'” he said. “The defining message for me is, as long as you survive, there is always tomorrow, and to me, we can rebuild. We can’t recoup the memories, but they are in our heart and our minds, and that is good enough for me right now.”
The Office of Emergency has completed its survey of the damage. All told, 110 homes sustained damage from the tornado. Seven were destroyed; 24 have major damage, 30 have minor damage and 49 are listed as “affected” per FEMA damage assessment standars.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.