A possible tornado killed two people at a Virginia campground Thursday, injuring more than two dozen others. More than 1,300 people were at the Cherrystone Family Camping & RV Resort when the storm hit and all have been accounted for.
Lord Balatbat and his wife, Lolabeth Ortega, both from Jersey City, New Jersey, died when a tree fell on their tent, authorities said. USA Today reports that the couple’s 13-year-old son has life-threatening injuries and was transported to Children’t Hospital of Richmond for treatment.
The area around the campground where the tornado struck was under a tornado warning at the time, the National Weather Service reported. Weather service radar showed a waterspout over Chesapeake Bay just before 9 am local time, prompting the alert.
Preliminary data from the National Weather Service storm survey team in Northampton County, Virginia, show tornadic and straight-line wind and hail damage from the storm, rated an EF1 with winds of 86 to 110 mph. Brittney Eder of the Eastville Volunteer Fire Co. recalled that the tornado “came in real quick. The sky turned jet black.”
Eder left the campground before the storm reached its peak, but her father told her from the scene that the storm felled trees and flipped at least two trailers. The New York Times notes that most of the victims were being treated at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. Injuries included head trauma and broken bones.
Governor Terry McAuliffe released a statement Thursday afternoon, promising to provide “whatever support is necessary to help these communities move forward.”
The Virginia campground is extremely popular and draws the same population numbers as the nearby town of Cape Charles sees year-round. It is located on the peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and includes spaces for campers, cottages, cabins, a store, and four swimming pools.
Campers posted photos of the damage on social media, including one woman, whose pictures showed a car with extensive damage. Along with damage at the campground, the reported tornado caused a truck to overturn north of Cape Charles along U.S. 13 in nearby Cheriton, Virginia.
Corrine Geller, Virginia State Police spokeswoman, reported that the driver was transported to a hospital with minor injuries. Witnesses reported seeing golfball-sized hail immediately after the truck overturned.
Coast Guard crews responded to reports of boats overturned in the water in the area. At least three boaters were pulled from the water, but their conditions are not known. The loss of life makes Thursday’s reported tornado the first killer twister in Virginia since April 2011 and one of the deadliest in the state since 1950.
[Image via Twitter]