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Tornado victims stand united in face of looters

2 men arrested, charged, so far

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – People in Amherst County are still working to clean up just over a week after an EF-3 tornado leveled houses and ripped trees from the ground. 

As if all the destruction wasn't enough, now those who have lost everything are dealing with looters.

The bond between neighbors in Elon, Virginia, is stronger than ever and they're sending a clear message to anyone who tries to take advantage of them: stay away. 

"Your whole routine is messed up, your whole life is messed up," said tornado victim Gary Fink. 

Fink and his neighbors on Nottoway Drive are working hard to pick up the pieces after a tornado ripped through their neighborhood.

They've seen hundreds of strangers come through over the last week. Most are trying to help but not everyone had the best intentions.

"Fifteen minutes after I left they came, they drove their truck over on the property and started taking my stuff," said Fink.

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Looters ripped TVs off the walls of Fink's RV, stole metal and even the box fan from the basement. 

"You come in there and you victimize that family again. I mean, that's like the low of lows," said Fink.

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Deputies caught Joshua Woodward and Stephen Wells, (pictured above) and charged them with larceny, trespassing and property damage.

"It was in broad open daylight. This community watched the subjects, they stayed on the line with 911 operators and Amherst County and was able to relay that information to the deputies as they responded," said Gary Roakes, Amherst County's director of public safety.

If you look around the neighborhood, you'll see the message to anyone else attempting to take advantage of them spray painted on mattresses.

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One of those mattresses says "We're watching you!" 

"They watch out for each other and all we ask is that you don't take things into your own hands," said Roakes.

Fink said he's upset that looters tried to steal what little he had left just days after a storm that took everything from his family.

"The rebuilding process has now begun and it's going to be a slow process but you come back here next year and you're going to see a new neighborhood," said Fink, who also said that his family is returning to normal more and more every day as his kids just went back to school Monday. 

Despite looters trying to victimize them again, he said they're moving forward and it doesn't outweigh all the good people are doing to help them rebuild.


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