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Normalcy returning to tornado-ravaged Naylor’s Beach: ‘It looked like a war zone’

Posted at 8:07 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 20:34:55-05

NAYLOR'S BEACH, Va. -- At the intersection of Summerwind and Penn’s Landing on Naylor’s Beach in the Northern Neck, bald eagles can be seen perching as waves lap along the shoreline of the picturesque Rappahannock River.

But that scene of tranquility is in stark contrast to the events of Feb. 24, 2016. That is where a tornado outbreak spawned seven twisters in Virginia and one of them devastated Penn Burke's waterfront community.

Damage in Naylor's Beach after the Feb. 24, 2016, tornado outbreak.

Damage in Naylor's Beach after the Feb. 24, 2016, tornado outbreak.

Video from Burke shows an aerial before-and-after view of the damage the tight-knit community suffered.

“It shows what my house looked like before the storm, immediately after the storm and what it looked like three weeks ago, Burke said. “It looked like a war zone. Everything that we had collected in 26 years of owning this cottage on the Rappahannock was scattered all over the field.”

Penn Burke

Penn Burke

Since the tornado hit, contractors have been working to restore a sense of normalcy for homeowners.

And the Burkes, who rebuilt their home, are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel after some very emotional days.

“Every time I turn that corner and head down here, I remember what it felt like seeing everything blown across the field and the damage that was here,” Burke said. “You just can`t erase that.”

Work continues on the new Burke cottage.

Work continues on the new Burke cottage.

But as progress continues on the couple’s new home and around the Naylor`s Beach community, Burke is looking forward to making new memories on the Rappahannock with his family.

He prays those new memories will outweigh the bad.

“We didn't lose any lives," Burke said. "We lost a lot of stuff, but we're all OK.”