Storms leave 18,000 without power

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A thunderstorm caused a tree to fall on this 1997 Chevrolet Malibu belonging to Donnie and Deanna Wyche in Beaver Brook Manor in Isle of Wight County. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN — It looked as if Donnie and Deanna Wyche’s car was hidden by leaves.

Unfortunately for the Wyches, a Tuesday afternoon thunderstorm caused a tree to split in half and fall, busting out the windshield and back glass of their 1997 Chevrolet Malibu while it was parked at Beaver Brook Manor on Walters Highway.

“Wow” was all Deanna could say afterward.

A line of storms swept through the area leaving more than 18,000 people without power and causing damage throughout Western Tidewater.

Bonita Harris, spokeswoman for Dominion Virginia Power, said 5,040 customers in Southampton County and 13,282 customers in Isle of Wight County were without power due to the storm.

Harris could not say when power might be restored to all customers.

Meteorologist Mike Rusnak with the National Weather Service in Wakefield said the storms developed in Tennessee and western Virginia and moved east throughout the day.

The fast-moving storms had gusting winds of 50 to 60 mph and put down some heavy rainfall — a half-inch to an inch in some places.

Police scanner reports indicated a tornado was spotted in the Drewryville area, but Rusnak said no tornado was reported. He said the majority of damage could be attributed to straight-line winds.

Bob Edwards, owner of Edwards Hardware in Courtland, said he heard about a lot of trees down in the area.

Someone also reported a plane crash near the new Virginia Department of Transportation complex on Route 35, Edwards said.

Rather, “it was a trampoline that went airborne and got lodged in some lines,” he said.

At Shands Shopping Center in Courtland, the power went out at the Dollar General and tore off a portion of the roof, but the neighboring ABC store had electricity, said liquor store manager Reuben Story.

“We just had a few blown-down tree limbs,” Story said.

Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Wanda Covington heard reports of numerous fallen trees and limbs in the area, but nothing serious. VDOT had cleared most of the damage by Tuesday evening.

Sedley Fire Chief Keith Rose received reports of trees down and even one that had fallen on a house, but no serious damage was reported.

Newsoms Fire Chief Larry Fowler said he didn’t know of any major damage in the area.

Capron Fire Chief Vernie Francis said all he had seen were fallen limbs and split trees.