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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 05/ 6/2008

Comment of the Week: Suffolk Tornado Report

By Jason Samenow

Damage from the Suffolk, Va. tornado. By Capital Weather Gang visitor Dulles ARC

Long time Capital Weather Gang reader Dulles ARC, a Rapid Response Team lead for the American Red Cross, described his experience at the scene of last Monday's EF-3 tornado in Suffolk, Va.:

I ... was in the most severely affected areas on Tuesday and Wednesday. Some of the stories of the residents in the Hillpoint neighborhood are especially incredible. If any of you are interested in seeing some unpublished pics from on the ground, go to [Flickr's American Red Cross page]. I spoke at length with Governor Kaine on Tuesday; he is a genuinely good "normal" guy, and he is committed to helping them rebuild. I was at Katrina both in New Orleans and along the Lake Pontchartrain coast south of Slidell where the shore is east facing...the storm damage there was obviously widespread from the 18 foot surge (I have some unreal pics of that too). But what I saw in parts of Suffolk reminded me of what I saw in Louisiana. I can NOT believe that everyone made it out alive in Suffolk. That community has been around for about 400 years - they will make it back stronger than ever.

By Jason Samenow  | May 6, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang  
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wow... very scary

Posted by: madison | May 6, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Yep...that was the real deal. Any tornado should get your attention, but a strong EF3 - last I heard winds estimated at 165mph - is a heartbreaker. We just dont see these types of tornadoes very often on the East Coast. What you are seeing in that picture isnt just a concrete slab...its that home's hardwood floors. The tornado swept from right to left in this photo. There were four homes on that short street - none of them were left standing. The local Red Cross chapter in Suffolk did a great job in quickly getting the affected residents the basic life sustaining needs - food, water and shelter - to those that needed it. The only real good news, besides the fact that nobody lost their lives, is that nearly everyone had homeowners' insurance - this is why you may have read that the Federal Government isnt providing law, they can not duplicate what insurance companies do. As far as the Red Cross goes, in this disaster our mission is to provide the immediate (re: very short term) needs of the affected residents of a disaster. Giving blood is always a need, and often in situations like this with hundreds of injuries, blood donation is an urgent need. We also provided mental health support and are affiliated with several major mental health organizations for disasters like this. I spent a lot of time with the local and national media telling the Red Cross story, but I also just talked with and listened to many of the residents' stories...sometimes it takes a weight off of your shoulders to talk about what just happened.

Suffolk has been around for nearly 400 years - this community will rebuild. For those of us in the DC area, something like this can easily happen attention to tornado and severe t-storm watches and be vigilant of actual warnings for your area. This tornado happened at 4:15pm or so - a lot of folks weren't home from work yet...two hours later and things could have (and likely would have) been much worse.

Posted by: Dulles ARC | May 6, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Dulles ARC: Thanks for the additional commentary. We're lucky to have experienced and knowledgeable contributors such as yourself.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | May 6, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The National Earthquake Information Center, via FEMA Operations, is reporting that Northern VA has experienced rumblings equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 2 to 3. It remains unclear if this was an actual earthquake, or due to another cause.


Posted by: Jenn In Reston | May 6, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse


I just got a report from "Arlington Alert" of a possible magnitude 2-3 EARTHQUAKE recorded in "Northern Virginia"! They are apparently trying to check this out at present.

Request further confirmation. Has anyone heard anything???

Posted by: El Bombo | May 6, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I was in Newport News last Monday when this hit. In fact, I was driving down 64 on my way back to the hotel at about 4:30 or 5pm. During the traffic report, they made mention of a report of a tornado down at some intersection, but I didn't get the impression it was too bad. Then, I got back to my hotel room (after getting some dinner) and turned on the TV. I was amazed at the devestation I saw. This was about an hour or two after it hit, so a lot of details were still sketchy. But they had crews on the ground and were showing pictures of the damage. It was very surreal, especially having just driven through the same storm that spawn that.

Posted by: RT | May 6, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jenn. Wonder if Doug Hill will have anything to say on WTOP.

Posted by: El Bombo | May 6, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse


Per "Arlington Alert": USGS has confirmed a magnitude 1.8 "micro-earthquake" centered in Annandale, VA at 1:30 PM.

Posted by: El Bombo | May 6, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

According to an email alert I just received, it was centered within a mile of the intersection of Route 236 and Wakefield Chapel Road--about 2 miles south of the Beltway. I am about five miles away and we all felt it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Jeepers, Dulles ARC, when I see those pix I can't believe it either--that everyone survived. 165-mph winds! My God in Heaven, I would die of fright, or at best spend the rest of my life crawling on hands and knees, gibbering. Thanks for contributing this info.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | May 6, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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