Six months after a hurricane struck Virginia Beach, residents are starting to rebuild

Six months after a hurricane struck Virginia Beach, residents are starting to rebuild

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Many of us remember where we were on the night of April 30 when an EF-3 tornado tore through Virginia Beach, shattering windows, tearing off roofs, toppling trees and damaging more than 100 homes.

Six months later, brick by brick, Great Neck residents began rebuilding their neighborhood.

“You miss your home and your place,” said Virginia Sutton, a hurricane survivor.

Tornado destroys homes in Virginia Beach

I met Sutton where her home was located before the EF-3 tornado hit.

“We heard the train. We didn’t have time (before) to hear the noise. We ran into my hallway. It was so intense, but so fast,” she told me.

The storm hit a tree, splitting her house in half.

“It was like a bomb had gone off. It was terrible. At first, all I did was cry. It took five months and two weeks for this to start,” she told me, referring to her home.


Hurricane cleanup continues in Virginia Beach

April 3, 2017, 9:15 pm

Six months later, they recently started construction on her new home. I asked her what the last six months had been like for her.

“It’s not as easy as people think. And not only that, look at the age. When you’re young, you can do anything, we can do anything, we did that a lot. But when you get older, it doesn’t help.”

According to the city, more than 100 homes were damaged. The National Weather Service says wind speeds are estimated at 140-150 mph.

“People got very little warning… to get into the middle of their house to find a safe place,” said Larry Torrence, a Sutton neighbor. “So (it’s almost a miracle) that no one got hurt.”

The tornado’s path of destruction tore roofs off homes, knocking them off their foundations and shattering windows — leaving extensive damage in its wake.

“Almost everything outside my house was damaged and had to be repaired. So, we’ve been dealing with insurance companies, contractors, subcontractors, you name it for the last six months,” Torrence said.

Some barely escaped with their lives.

Watch: Drone 3 flies over hurricane damage in Virginia Beach

“We never stopped to think that, ‘Oh my God, you know, 30 seconds ago, we were sitting in that very spot,'” Al Cheuning said.

Chuning and his wife were sitting in the living room when a tree crashed into the middle of their house. They hadn’t been back inside since that night, and living out of suitcases and boxes wasn’t easy.

“You’re full of boxes. And so… at least once a week, it’s like, ‘Where is this?'” “I tried to go through and remember what box it was in… it’s not home,” Cheuning said of the challenge.

While the city tells me damage is estimated at more than $15 million, residents tell me that returning to their homes has been an uphill battle.

“There’s a shortage of materials, there’s a shortage of workers, you know, and then there’s all kinds of paperwork,” Cheuning said. “It’s just the way things are.”

“My insurance company was as good as it could be, you know, but none of them could cover everything,” Sutton said.

“The process takes a long time. It tests your patience. But in a good, close-knit community like this, as long as everyone is pulling together and helping each other and supporting each other, it’s just a matter of stamina,” Torrence said.

“We’ve been through trials, tribulations and challenges, but we always succeed. I’m very proud to say that the strength of Virginia Beach is the people of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dyer told me.


Monday’s photos and video show the aftermath of a Virginia Beach EF-3 tornado

12:21 PM, May 1, 2023

Mayor Dyer told me he was amazed at the way the community came together to help each other, but was extremely grateful that no one was hurt.

“The most satisfactory thing is that there were no casualties, which is truly a miracle,” the city’s mayor said.

But even miracles can take time – residents told me they are working to build back stronger and look forward to returning to their homes.

(Tags for translation)Hurricane

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