Maiden Lane, SW Roanoke; WSLS photojournalist Jeff Perzan
Oakridge Blvd. in Lynchburg; Courtesy: WSLS viewer Tammy Argueta
Blacksburg, VT Drillfield; Courtesy: Virginia Tech Police Dept. Facebook page
ROANOKE, VA -
A line of severe thunderstorms caused widespread damage, and knocked out power to more than 100,000 people across the WSLS viewing area on Thursday afternoon.
Appalachian Power's outage website showed about 85,000 power outages due to the storm system as of 10:00 p.m. The hardest hit areas include:
Bedford Co. - 11,628 (44% of total customers)
Campbell Co. - 11,466 (65% of total customers)
Lynchburg - 12,540 (35% of total customers)
Roanoke City - 15,316 (30% of total customers)
Roanoke Co. - 14,823 (33% of total customers)
APCo spokesman Todd Burns told WSLS that repairs and restoration will take multiple days. Assessment teams must first figure out how much damage there is, and how to prioritize repairs.
"We've seen about 120,000 customers out as a result of this storm. The derecho was about a half-million, so it's much more severe. But with that said, we've got a lot of damage in our Virginia territory. This is one of the bigger storms that has hit our Roanoke area in many, many years," Burns explained.
Virginia's largest utility, Dominion Virginia Power, showed more than 5,000 power outages in the WSLS viewing area at the height of the storm. by 10:25 p.m., that number had dropped to 3,255. Appomattox County, Campbell County, Pittsylvania County, and Halifax County were the hardest hit.
Southside Electric Co-op's website showed nearly 6,000 power outages as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Appomattox County, Bedford County, and Campbell County were its hardest hit areas.
Carilion Clinic spokesman Eric Earnhart said both Roanoke Memorial and Giles Community Hospitals went to generator power during the storm. In Roanoke Memorial's case, Earnhart said the hospital was dealing with power flickers. In Giles Community's case, it lost normal power during the storm. Both hospital operated normally during their time on generator Earnhart said.
Roanoke Regional Airport recorded wind gusts up to 68 miles per hour during the afternoon.
The winds knocked over hundreds of trees and power lines.
In Roanoke City and County, WSLS crews found trees on homes and apartments in the Grandin/Raleigh Court area, and on roads in South Roanoke.
A home on Maiden Lane in Southwest Roanoke had a tree partially collapse its roof.
On Brandon Avenue, a large tree fell on some major power lines. Before power went out in nearby neighborhoods, Jim Lampie told us, "Just saw a big flash, heard a big crack and that was it. Heard a big tree fall over. Come outside, and now we've got this big limb system all over the power lines out there."
A stretch of Franklin Road near the City-County line, as well as Festival Townside Plaza shopping center lost power.
In Downtown Roanoke, tree branches were blown onto cars parked along Church Avenue, next to Green Memorial United Methodist Church.
Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman Tiffany Bradbury tells WSLS that crews responded to 178 calls for downed trees or wires, and 300 total calls for help.
In Roanoke County, the winds blew a tree branch into the windshield of a K-92 Radio van. Luckily, no one was inside.
On Cotton Hill Road, viewers sent in pictures of a large tree that was uprooted, and crashed into a home in the 6100 block. We're told the homeowner had to drop her home owners insurance, due to financial difficulty.
Roanoke County Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Jennifer Conley Sexton said crews responded to more than 200 calls, most of which will power wires being knocked down.
In Salem, the storms knocked out power to and damaged the Roanoke College campus. The college closed early as a precaution.
Traffic lights along Main Street lost power for a time as well.
The Salem Civic Center complex suffered storm damage. Tents being set up for the Roanoke Valley Horse show were damaged. Two-by-fours that were blown into the Salem Memorial Stadium baseball field, damaged fencing and decking.
"I've been here since 1967, I've never seen wind like this," Salem director of civic facilities Carey Harveycutter told WSLS 10's Jenna Zibton. "And it came up very quickly and was gone very quickly."
In Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Police Department posted a picture on its Facebook page, of a tree down on top of cars along the Drillfield on campus.
Elsewhere in the town, a tree sliced through the home of 84-year-old Russell Cupp. He was inside when the tree fell, and luckily he was not hurt.
"Well, I just thought the whole house maybe was coming down, the racket it made," Cupp told WSLS 10's Katie Love. "I had to do a little maneuvering around to get back up inside to see what happened, to see what it'd done."
Cupp said this was not the first time that a tree damaged his home, but it is the worst damage he's had.
Bedford County Fire & Rescue says its main operations center lost power, and workers shifted to the Emergency Operations Center.
Rescue crews also helped a Hardy man. A tree feel onto his home along Shady Run Road, and hurt him. EMTs took the man to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He's expected to be ok.
Clean-up crews are working to remove trees that are blocking multiple roads in Bedford County.