Northam declares state of emergency following severe weather


SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WAVY/NBC/AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday declared a state of emergency after severe thunderstorms ripped through parts of the state on Sunday. 

Northam said in a tweet he made the declaration to “help help local and state agencies respond to damage from extreme weather.”

Damage was particularly heavy in areas near Lynchburg and Danville. Peter Corrigan, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said by phone that an investigation is underway to determine if tornadoes touched down.

Lynchburg and Danville officials declared states of emergency Sunday as fallen trees, downed power lines and damaged homes were reported all over the respective cities. 

Drivers were asked to stay off the roads in Lynchburg to allow police, fire and public works agencies to respond to problem areas in the city. Downed trees throughout the city could not be moved until power crews deactivated live electrical wires.

NBC affiliate WSLS is reporting thousands of power outages across the region. Schools and city offices have closed for Monday. The Red Cross says they are assisting with shelters in the region.

Residents were expected to be without power until Monday or Tuesday in Danville. 

In Amherst County, near Lynchburg, county administrator Dean Rodgers said about 20 homes were destroyed and multiple people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Danville Register & Bee reported that two homes were heavily damaged by fallen trees.

Police said a Lynchburg police officer was struck by a motorist while directing traffic. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

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