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Twister Touches Down In Alton On Sunday Night

The series of strong storms that hit Halifax County Sunday night brought torrential rains, high winds, thunder and lightning and sparked a small tornado in the Alton community, according to the National Weather Service.

At approximately 10:05 p.m. the Halifax County E-911 Center received a call from 1192 Blane Road, said Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders.

The caller said he believed a tornado had touched down, and an unoccupied trailer near the property was damaged, but no one was hurt, Saunders said.

The vacant trailer, which was used to store antique furniture and had no gas or electricity, belonged to Mitch Gordon and was located on his property.
“No one lived in the trailer. We just used it to store furniture in,” Gordon said Monday morning as he surveyed the damage.

Many of those antiques were destroyed in Sunday night’s storm. Saunders estimated damages at the site at $15,000.

Other nearby houses and buildings in the Alton community were unscathed.

Late Monday, Meteorologist Phil Hysell with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg confirmed an F-0 strength tornado touched down along Blane Road. He said the tornado carried winds of 65 to 85 mph and cut a path of destruction approximately 100 yards wide at its widest point. Hysell said the small tornado skirted along the ground for approximately a quarter of a mile.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the entire county around 10:25 p.m., upgrading the alert from the previous watch issued earlier in the evening, Saunders said.

Halifax County received tremendous amounts of rain in a very short period, he said. Numerous roads throughout the county experienced flash flooding including major roadways Highway 58 at Lawson’s Creek and at its intersection with Highway 501, he added.

Halifax County Emergency Services, aided by the American Red Cross, the Halifax County Health Department and the Department of Social Services, opened a shelter at the gymnasium at the Mary Bethune Complex at 12 a.m., Saunders said.

The shelter closed at 8 a.m. Monday.

Halifax County Office of Emergency Services began conducting damage assessments at daybreak Monday, Saunders said.

There were no reported injuries from this storm, no deaths, and no missing persons in Halifax County, he added.

Over 1,700 Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative customers lost power during the storm, 1,300 of those in Halifax County, according to Brian Mosier, M.E.C. vice-president for business development. All were wind-related and were restored within three hours, he added.

A total of 326 Dominion Virginia Power customers in 14 locations in South Boston lost power Sunday night, according to Dominion spokesman Dan Genest. All had their power restored by Monday evening, Genest explained.

Approximately 150 customers of the Halifax County Service Authority lost water during the storm, some for as long as 12 hours, said HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones.

One break occurred in the Westside area and the other in a creek crossing near Wilkerson Avenue in South Boston, Jones said. HCSA crews worked to restore water service to their customers, but Jones said some of the repairs were temporary because the second break was in a creek where they could not bring their equipment due to excessively wet conditions.

Public schools in the county operated on a two-hour delay Monday morning as a result of power outages at Meadville Elementary and Sydnor Jennings Elementary. Meadville regained power at approximately 7:15 a.m. Monday, and Sydnor Jennings’ power was back on just before 8 a.m., said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Joe Griles.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Dan River at South Boston.

As of 4 a.m. Tuesday, the water level had risen to 24.9 feet with minor flooding. Flood stage for the Dan River at South Boston is 19 feet. The NWS predicted the river would fall below flood stage by Wednesday afternoon.