Fire Chief: Parts of Petersburg look like ‘war zone’ after twister

Posted at 11:39 AM, Jun 03, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-06 22:23:36-04

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) – The cleanup continues in Petersburg after officials confirmed after a tornado ripped trees from the ground, sliced some homes into pieces and left one person injured Friday.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday that a tornado, winds of 80 to 85 mph, tracked about 3 miles and was between 150 and 200 yards wide, in Peterbsurg. [REALTED: Weather Service confirms tornado hit Petersburg]

Petersburg Fire Chief T.C. Hairston said the three areas of the city hit by the tornado and damaging winds look “like a war zone."

"Basically we got damage from Battlefield Park, over through Oakhurst, over here in East Walnut Hill, extensive damage," said Hariston.

Ed Crook, with Petersburg’s Department of Building Inspections, said  the twister’s wicked winds caused a lot of damage ranging from downed trees and power lines to entire roofs ripped of houses.

City officials said damage from the twister and the winds has left about 12,000 cubic yards of debris that will have to be removed. [PHOTOS: Photos show wind, twister damage from around the area]

While crews worked to remove some of that debris Saturday. dozens of power crews also worked to restore electricity. Still, getting the many homes repaired will take time.

Some residents who happened to be home when the storm hit are amazed they survived Mother Nature’s fury.

"I thought it was thunder and next thing I sat up on the bed, whooooo, all over that quick,” said Andrew Johnson. A tree just ended up barely missing his house.

Johnson said it was all over in a matter of seconds.

"We was in the hall and I heard that loud boom sound,” Hestill Dabney told CBS 6 News’ Senior Reporter Wayne Covil Saturday. “And that train sound -- and I was just hoping there weren't no more coming."

Seconds after the twister blew through the neighborhood, Dabney could can see daylight shining through her home’s roof.

Many folks, like Dabney and Johnson, who were home when the storm passed over are grateful to be alive.

"We were very fortunate and blessed, no one was injured or hurt," said Robert Davis. "My wife had just left out of the bedroom, which is our bedroom which the tree fell into, and she went into the living room, and they heard the noise and rumble and all in there.”

Jason Hannah’s family also feels blessed. 

COMPLETE COVERAGE: June 1 storms down trees, knock out power across Commonwealth