At least three people were killed in Waverly, Virginia, as a powerful storm system ripped through the East Coast Wednesday, knocking out power lines for several buildings and houses. A day before, the storm system brought about two dozen tornadoes along the Gulf Coast, wrecking houses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, killing three people and injuring several others.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Wednesday. The state police said at least five structures have been destroyed. The names of the victims were not revealed but Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for state police, said that they were a 2-year-old child and two men aged 50 and 26, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Downed trees and debris hurled by strong winds of 60 mph led to the closure of roads. A curfew of 7:30 p.m. was also reportedly imposed so that the search and rescue teams could go door to door to check on people. Witnesses said that the storm swept through Waverly with little warning, the AP reported.
Timothy Williams, a witness, told the AP that the storm hit when a friend had just reached to take his new car for a drive. "It picked the car right off the ground, and put it right back on the ground," Williams, 44, said, adding that they stayed in the car until the storm had passed. He added that the storm had blown over electrical wires, but they managed to escape without being hurt.
In Appomattox County, Virginia, seven people were reportedly injured after a funnel cloud destroyed a nearly 10 mile path.
The National Weather Service (NWS) warned that there could be tornado activity along the area from Raleigh, North Carolina, north to parts of Virginia, Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area. “We're swamped with tornadoes on the ground here," Brandon Dunston, Weather Service forecaster in Raleigh, North Carolina, said, according to Reuters. Authorities were also responding to reports of flooding in several regions.
A mobile home in Wayne County, North Carolina, was destroyed while winds up to 53 mph were reported at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, South Carolina, NWS said, according to Reuters.
On Tuesday, one of the hardest hit areas along the Gulf Coast was a recreational vehicle park in the town of Convent, southern Louisiana. Two people were killed in the area while 31 people were taken to hospitals after being injured. One person remained unaccounted for, though an all-night search of the park did not find any further casualties.
On Wednesday, residents in Louisiana were cleaning up the wreckage after the storm damaged nearly 200 homes. Rose Fuselier, 80, had a hole where her home's front window once stood. “The whole backyard is covered with trees, and then my shed is torn up, too. The roof is gone, and the siding is partially gone,” she said, according to the AP. However, she added that other houses suffered worse damage that hers. “I lucked out,” she said.
In Mississippi, a 73-year-old man in a mobile home, west of Purvis in Lamar County, died Tuesday due to a blunt-force trauma. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reportedly said that an apparent tornado in the Pensacola area damaged over 70 homes and 24 apartments. Three people faced minor injuries, the AP reported.