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‘Community always comes together’: What happened after the deadly Evergreen tornado five years ago

‘The worst that mother nature brings, brings out the best in humanity’

The EF-3 tornado left the Evergreen community in ruins.
The EF-3 tornado left the Evergreen community in ruins.

EVERGREEN, Va. – Wednesday marks five years since a violent tornado with winds up to 145 miles per hour tore through Appomattox County, leading to one person’s death and several others’ injuries.

It’s a day 10 News Chief Meteorologist Jeff Haniewich remembers well.

Here’s his account of what happened on Feb. 25, 2016, the day after the tornado, when he visited Evergreen:

I remember traveling to Evergreen the day after the tornado.

Upon entry into the tornado-ravaged area, my photographer and I were totally speechless. With the exception of the occasional “oh my gosh,” no words were spoken for a long time.

When you’re on-air tracking severe weather, in your mind you’re hoping and praying that the storm is behaving itself and that it’s not doing any damage at all to the communities you’re talking about on TV.

Before we arrived in Appomattox County, we knew that was not the case, but the pictures we saw prior to our arrival did not do justice to the amount of destruction that was left behind.

My family lived in Kansas for several years, so, unfortunately, I’ve dealt with tornadoes for part of my life. And the scenes from Evergreen were like what I saw in Tornado Alley, not in Virginia.

After looking at the damage for a while, we then started talking to those who were so impacted by this powerful tornado and came across literally hundreds of folks doing anything they could to help out. I remember meeting the Appomattox County High School softball team as they were cleaning up debris left behind.

When you have natural disasters like this hit, the community always comes together.

The worst that mother nature brings, brings out the best in humanity.


About the Author:

Chief Meteorologist Jeff Haniewich is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. every weekday.