CRAIG COUNTY, Va. – Emergency responders in Craig County are crediting neighbors' quick thinking and preparedness for preventing any injuries in Sunday's tornado.
"Everybody's first instinct was to go inside," said Robert Decarolis, emergency services and management coordinator for Craig County. "They said they heard what sounded like a freight train coming. Nobody really stayed around. They ran inside. Most went inside the center of their house or to a bathroom."
The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF1 tornado. Meteorologists said it was on the ground for less than one minute. It had estimated maximum wind speeds of 105 mph and was about 150 yards wide and traveled a half-mile.
Decarolis said he was surprised when the initial calls about a possible tornado came in.
"First, it's hard to believe," Decarolis said. "Tornadoes aren't common. They don't happen in Craig County. I don't think we've had one before."
Most of the damage was concentrated on Hawkins Lane in the New Castle area. The tornado ripped shingles off roofs, tore siding off houses, flipped cars and destroyed trees.
"When our fire and law enforcement initially showed up, they discovered downed trees on the road, which actually blocked access to the incident," Decarolis said.
Decarolis said the storm system damaged five homes and caused about $100,000 in damage.
He said it is important for families to have a plan in the event of severe weather or any other emergency.
"Everybody's first instinct was to go inside and seek shelter, which, I think, was one of the big things that saved lives," Decarolis said. "One of the biggest killers in a tornado is flying debris itself and it can be pitched miles, depending on the type of tornado."