Severe storms uproot trees, down power lines

'You could just feel the turmoil in the air, and then it just blasted through'

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Massive trees were uprooted and knocked down power lines as severe storms tore across Central and Southwest Virginia.

Susie Whiteside couldn't believe the damage she woke up to Friday morning.

"It was a total surprise," said Whiteside, who lives in the Oak Grove neighborhood in Roanoke County.

Torrential rain and gusting winds knocked down trees, destroying a shed and damaging a home's roof.

"We didn't even hear the trees come down, that's how loud the wind was," Whiteside said.

Crews spent Friday cleaning up the mess.

"Right now, they're cutting trees off the lines," said Donald Cox, a foreman with Asplundh, a tree expert company. "One thing we have to do is ground it so it's not live and it's not hot on him and if they get near the wire, it won't electrocute them."

Nearly 20,000 Appalachian Power customers were in the dark. Outages were reported all the way from Galax to Nelson County.

Floyd County Public Schools and Big Island Elementary School in Bedford County closed because of the outages. Roanoke County Public Schools warned parents that buses might be delayed because drivers had to avoid downed trees.

"That was a big storm. It was freaky. It was so warm and humid, you could just feel the turmoil in the air, and then it just blasted through," Whiteside said.

Until the damage is cleared and the lights come back on, all Whiteside said they can do is wait.

"We'll just make a fire in the fireplace or something," Whiteside said. "We'll be good. Very fortunate."

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