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Wild day of storm damage in Mecklenburg County (UPDATED)

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Tornado damage in the Rogers Corner area of Mecklenburg County, west of Boydton. / September 17, 2018

Southside Virginia continued to see impacts from the remnants of Tropical Storm Florence into Monday as steady rains, thunderstorms and tornadoes rolled through the area.

A tornado touched down at Rogers Corner near Daniels and Wilkerson Roads outside of Boydton around 10:33 a.m. Monday, prompting the National Weather Service in Wakefield to issue a warning advising residents of Mecklenburg County to take cover, move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. “If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris,” NWS advised.

The tornado was moving north at 55 mph toward Fairview, Plantersville, Wilburn, Loves Mill, Finchley, Fort Mitchell, Finneywood, Skipwith and Wightman, uprooting trees and damaging buildings in its path. A mobile home was partially crushed when a tree fell on it. At least one person was inside the home at the time but managed to escape without injury. The back deck of a second home was destroyed but the person there hid in an interior closet until the storm passed.

Students at Bluestone Middle School in Skipwith were forced to evacuate their school in the midst of a lockdown because of the proximity of the tornado to the school. Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols also said a gas tank on the property washed up out of the ground, causing gas fumes to seep into the building.

There was no smoke and no fire, but students were moved to the gymnasium at Bluestone High School in accordance with an evacuation plan recommended by Mecklenburg County’s Emergency Management Office.

At the same time, Bluestone High School was having other issues as the lower buildings on campus flooded due to heavy rains.

A downed power line on U.S. 58 near Bowen’s Mini Mart II in Buffalo Junction blocked traffic in both directions for several hours Monday afternoon as crews worked to repair the line.

Most of southern and central Virginia was under flash flood and severe weather warnings as Florence, downgraded to a tropical depression, passed through Virginia. Despite being far from the center of the storm, which was on track to head to far southwest Virginia, Southside localities received torrential rainfall overnight and continuing through Monday.

After initially planning to open two hours late this morning, Halifax County Schools cancelled classes on Monday. Pittsylvania County schools also cancelled, but Mecklenburg proceeded with plans Monday to hold school as regularly scheduled. That scheduled changed moderately later in the day, as students on the eastern end of the county were released at 1:30 p.m. but those on the western end, which received the brunt of the storm, were held at school until 3 p.m. to ensure road conditions were safe.

Nichols said Monday afternoon there would be no school on Tuesday as officials reassess the condition of roads around the county.

Sherrie Storm with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the water level of Buggs Island Lake is expected to peak Sunday, at 312 feet.

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