Tornado causes severe damage in Amherst County neighborhood

Neighbors, volunteers continue recovery process Tuesday


AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – Many people in the Elon community were continuing to look over what's left of their homes and clear away debris Tuesday,

The tornado that tore across Amherst County Sunday night, which the National Weather Service announced Monday night was a strong EF2, significantly damaged more than a dozen houses in one neighborhood.

The path of destruction is clearly visible on Nottaway Drive, where neighbors, volunteers and emergency crews helped clear debris Tuesday.

Those whose homes the storm destroyed said they're thankful everyone lived through the night. Melissa Massie said she and her family got to safety just in time. 

"When we hit the floor in the basement, the roof was coming off of the house," she said. 

She and her family were picking through what was left of their home Tuesday and counting their blessings. 

"We're very fortunate that we got out of there alive," she said.

Mark Lindsay will need to rebuild his house because it's no longer stable, even though from the outside it looks barely damaged. 

"The wind came up and got up under the corner, picked everything up, and brought it back down, and they think the house actually lifted off the foundation," Lindsay said.

He said he's thankful everyone's OK.

"Me and my wife were at the washer and dryer just holding each other," he said. 

The tense moments came during what was supposed to be a celebration for their 30th wedding anniversary. 

The wind tore Randy Johnson's house off the foundation. His front steps now lead up to a bare ground floor. There's nearly nothing salvageable. 

He said he's trying to stay busy, but he can get emotional at times. 

"Try to keep moving and not think about it. You start thinking about it, it gets to you," Johnson said. 

He said he was glad to find a few family pictures Tuesday scattered among the debris. 

More than 100 volunteers came to the area, providing much-needed help. A local catering company gave out hot food. 

"You come in and look out your door and it's like, 'Where do you even start?' All the help has been great," Pam Simpson said.

Emergency crews from Roanoke and Salem joined local teams and Virginia Department of Emergency Management workers to help clear debris and provide support. 

"People coming out, supporting us, through our devastation, it's really nice," Sean O'Neill said. 

Many people continued the process of working with their insurance companies Tuesday and coordinating with friends and relatives for places to stay.

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