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Two weeks later, tornado-struck towns in Va. still digging out

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 18:37:53-05

Two weeks after a powerful tornado ripped through Essex County and Tappahannock, the help is still coming in.

People have seen the devastation in Essex and stepped up to help in a big way.

Contributions have poured in at a local donation center in Tappahannock, but now they have maxed out the space and can't accept any more goods at this time.

The biggest need now? Organizers say they need monetary gifts or gift cards to Lowe's for families trying to rebuild.

Against the backdrop of a beautiful spring-like day are sad reminders of a devastating tornado in Tappahannock exactly two weeks ago.

A 145-year-old church was blown away, but faith is not shaken.

Dozens of people from multiple congregations worshipped beneath a tent at St. John's Baptist Church this past Sunday.

Just down the street on Desha Road, the work continues. One homeowner was too choked up to speak on camera. Off camera, he sings praises of volunteers from St. Luke's United Methodist Church who came up from Yorktown.

Group leader Ron Dorenbush talked about the work they've been doing on various home repair projects in Essex County.

"We removed trees and helped sort debris, looking for special things that people were trying to save. We removed a house and the foundation was crumbling and we took all of that out,” Dorenbush said.

So far, more than $65,000 in donations have come in and more than $2,700 in gift cards.

There's also a donation center filled to the brim in Tappahannock.

Organizers say scammers from out of the area have already surfaced trying to take advantage of this tragic situation.

Pastor Larry Schools is helping organize the Tappahannock donation center.

He adds they're working closely with Essex County Social Services to distribute the collected items.

"We will make sure that the goods given for the victims, get to the victims. So, we encourage them to sign up for social services. They will get an ID card, come here and we can take care of them" Pastor Schools added.

Director of Essex County's Department of Social Services Rod Gordon said the more than $65,000 in donations have gone directly to the Emergency Assistance Program.

It's money they will be used for tornado victims.

"These funds go directly to assist clients in the form of housing, temporary shelter, purchasing furniture and medication. We'll use it for anything we can do to help stabilize the family" Gordon explained.

If you would like to help, there are still ways to give monetary donations.

The Tappahannock Rotary Club has a website up and running.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Essex County Social Services Department to help tornado victims.

Their website is

Pastor Larry Schools' church is also collecting funds for tornado victims.

Their website is

Volunteers are needed Saturday, March 12 for county cleanup for the tornado victims. They can meet at Stan’s Skateland parking lot, Montross, Virginia at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.