TOWN OF WAVERLY, VIRGINIA – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe started the day on Thursday in Appomattox and ended it in Waverly. The governor toured the two Virginia towns most severely hit by at least two of 13 reported tornadoes that touched down during a storm on Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a major event for so many people,” McAuliffe said. “Your heart goes out to all these folks… those who have lost lives and those who have lost friends… those who have lost everything.”
As of Thursday afternoon, state officials report that five people in Virginia may have lost their lives during the storm.
The highest toll was in Waverly, where a mobile home on Maifield Avenue was struck by a tornado. Three of its residents were killed and a fourth person seriously injured. The deceased have been identified as Larry D. Turner, 50; Devine J. Stringfield, 26, and Ivan T. Lewis, 2. The 30-year-old woman who survived is the mother of the 2-year-old and she remains hospitalized.
Another storm-related death occurred in Appomattox, where a 78-year-old man was thrown from his home. On Thursday afternoon, state officials reported that there may have been a fifth storm-related death on the Shenandoah River.
In addition to touring storm damage in Waverly, Gov. McAuliffe met with storm survivors and family members of Waverly residents who were killed by the storm.
“This is a very, very, tough situation,” said McAuliffe. “I would just ask all Virginians… they need help. So, we’re going to stand up and get some donations.
“The family doesn’t have the money to bury their child,” said McAuliffe. It’s very sad. They have no money for clothes. They have nothing. They lost everything. Whatever cash they had went off in the wind… school books, just everything was just totally gone.”
“They need help, and that’s why Virginians rise to the occasion,” said McAuliffe.
Following his meeting with family members of those who perished, McAuliffe toured the site where the trailer home rested before the storm. Nothing remains of the home but a cinder block base and debris.
Following that site visit, the Governor and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran toured other sites in Waverly that were affected by the storm.
According to Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya, a designated spokesperson for the state’s emergency response team in Waverly, 10 buildings were completely destroyed in Waverly and more than 45 others damaged by the storm.
The path of destruction of the tornado began south of Waverly and continued for about three-miles, according to Anaya. The twister, however, did not stay on the ground during most of its transit through town.
Before leaving Waverly, Gov. McAuliffe told the Sussex-Surry Dispatch, “It’s so hard to listen to the family who lost literally everything. I told them that we would be there for them and to help raise money or do whatever they need… no clothes, no money, no school books… nothing.”
Speaking to the community at large, McAuliffe said, “This is a tragedy that occurred, but it will make us stronger, and we are going to be here for you.”
McAuliffe made an appeal that anyone who wishes to help victims of the tornado contact Sussex County officials.
Sussex County Emergency Management Coordinator Eddie Vick provided his contact number, and said he would direct the call to the appropriate agency. His number is 804-691-2582.
Additionally, anyone needing assistance in the vicinity of Waverly because of the storm, or who would like to volunteer to help, or wants to provide donations can contact the Sussex County Housing Office at 804-834-1302.