McAuliffe to get first hand look at Eastern Shore tornado damage


by 13News Now Team Coverage

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 25 at 8:07 AM

7/25 UPDATE: Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) is due on the Eastern Shore at 10 a.m. to survey the damage from Thursday's tornado, meet with people who were affected by the storm and will thank first responders.
His first stop will be at the Northampton Sheriff’s Office and then the governor will tour Cherrystone Family Camping & RV Resort, which remains closed, around 10:45 a.m.  

Monetary donations to the American Red Cross are being accepted to help storm victims; Northampton Co. officials say donations of water, food, clothing and other items are no longer being accepted and they thank everyone who responded immediately following Thursday's storm.

8:45 p.m. UPDATE: Lodging arrangements have been made for all families impacted by this tragedy, according to Northampton officials. The emergency shelter will close at 9 p.m. 

Cherrystone Campground remains closed.

4 p.m. UPDATE: Virginia State Police spokesperson Corrine Geller has released the names of two of the victims who died in the Cherrystone Campground after an EF-1 tornado ripped through.  Lord Balabat and his wife Lolibeth Ortega, both 38 years-old from Jersey City, NJ, died when a tree fell on their tent. 

Their 13-year-old son was in a nearby tent that also had a tree fall on it. He has been taken to Children's Hospital of Kings Daughters in Norfolk with what are believed to be life-threatening injuries.

"We want to express our condolences to the family members of those who lost their lives this morning," said Brian Moran, Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety in a press conference. "We are thankful there is not any more damage to people. There is a great deal of property damage."

Geller says the tornado came off the bay from the southwest corner of the campground and cut a "V-pattern" through the facility where more than 1,300 people were staying. Geller says "deputies and troopers went to every tent and camper to make sure everyone was accounted for."

Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to visit the area Friday to survey the damage. He was out of state when the tornado hit.


3:30 p.m. UPDATE: Preliminary data from the National Weather Service storm survey team at the scene indicates tornadic and straight line winds swept through the area early Thursday.   


2 p.m. UPDATE: Northampton Co. has declared a local emergency because of the morning storm that killed two people. READ THE DECLARATION


27 patients 1 critical sent to MCV 2 pediatric patients admitted 23 being treated in the emergency room 1 in surgery

— Peter Glagola (@riversidePR) July 24, 2014 


Glagola describes the nature of most of the injuries as broken bones, lacerations and cuts.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has been set up to treat those seriously injured in the storm. 


NORTHAMPTON CO. --  Va. State Police say two people were killed and least 20 were hurt when an apparent tornado swept through Cherrystone Campground on the Eastern Shore Thursday morning.

Va. State Police say there were more than 1,300 people at the campground when the storm hit.  Buses were brought in to take 150-175 people who have lost their shelter to an emergency shelter at Northampton High School.

Norma Lassiter, who works there, says there was a lot of panic and it was chaos this morning. She's okay, but she saw a lot of injuries.  

Amanda Blankenship with the Eastville Volunteer Fire Department told 13News Now during a live interview at 9:20 a.m., "Several children have been injured at the campground. I don’t know how many, but they have called for several ambulances to go there.”

Jordan Bertok tweeted two photos of damage at the campground, saying "Just lived through a tornado."  

As of 11:30 a.m., Sentara hospitals had received three patients from the campground.  One patient who came to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital has been transferred to CHKD; two patients arrived at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital -- 1 is being treated and 1 is being assessed, Sentara officials said.

Sentara Norfolk General, Sentara Virginia Beach General and Sentara Leigh prepared for mass casualties. By noon, they were returning to normal operations.

Ed Brazle with Virginia Beach Emergency Services says the city has sent six ambulances, the mass casualty truck and supporting officers and equipment to help on the Eastern Shore.

"We also had one of our ambulances meet an Eastern Shore ambulance on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to take a patient to the hospital," authorities explained.

All cities in the Hampton Roads area have mutual aid agreements, meaning they help each other out during disasters. "While we don't get tornadoes all the time, we train for this," Brazel said.

Connie Morrison with Delmarva Now says the entrance to the campground is closed to everyone except to emergency vehicles/workers. She also says she's watching emergency workers do a count of everyone at the campground and conducting a search of the grounds.

Northampton Co. was under a tornado warning until 9 a.m. after National Weather Service radar indicated a waterspout over the Chesapeake Bay.

Joe Burbee with Bay Creek Golf Club in Cape Charles says there was lots of rain and lightning this morning.  

"We got it pretty hard here for 15-20 minutes and it's gotten better," he said.

The golf course is about a mile from the campground.

13News Now viewer Linda Wenners Zaremski emailed a photo of large pieces of hail that fell at Marina Villages in Cape Charles.

"Debris was flying down the street -- our chairs, beach balls. We lost power," she said.

The storm created problems on the roads on the Eastern Shore. A tractor-trailer driver was hurt when his truck overturned blew over in the 2400 block of Lankford Highway in Northampton County.

During the warning, forecasters advised residents take cover, move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. Those in a mobile home, vehicle or outside, were urged to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.

Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement:
“My public safety team and I are continuing to monitor and respond to the situation on the Eastern Shore following today’s severe weather event. Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Virginia Department of Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Stern and regional state emergency management officials are en route to help coordinate the initial response to this tragic event. I have directed them and their teams to remain in constant contact with responders on the ground and make whatever resources are necessary available to those who are responding to this tragic event.
“We are all saddened by the reports of injuries and lives lost in this storm and will continue to offer our thoughts and prayers to the Virginia families who were affected, along with whatever support is necessary to help these communities move forward.”