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1 dead after apparent tornado touches down in Chesterfield

September 18, 2018
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A funnel cloud hangs over the Richmond, Va., skyline, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) — One person was killed after the remnants of Hurricane Florence spawned an apparent tornado that touched down in the Richmond area Monday and caused a building to collapse, authorities said.

Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore told a news conference the victim was a man who worked at Old Dominion Flooring. Elmore said when fire crews arrived the store’s manager told them that all of the store’s employees were accounted for, except for one man.

“We were able to get close enough to be able to see the deceased individual to realize that they were already deceased and that we didn’t have to go in and to try to do anything,” Elmore said.

Elmore said emergency personnel were working to recover the unidentified man’s body. A second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The flooring company was nearly leveled. The roof blew off and debris was sent hundreds of yards across parking lots in the small industrial park where the business is located.

All that could be seen hours later was the front of the building and multiple stacks of flooring.

There were at least four dump trucks and other construction vehicles lined up at the curb across the street from the flooring company that were moved a few yards from their parking places. Some hoods were blown open and the engines on some of those vehicles appeared to be damaged.

Pamela Wilson, 49, said she and her 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, went into the bathroom of their home to take cover when they first heard alerts about the storm.

“We heard a bang, so we got in the tub,” Pamela Wilson said.

The mother and daughter stayed in the bathroom for another 10 minutes and came out when the noise stopped. Pamela Wilson said when she looked out her back window, she saw two trees lying across her lawn and her side fence had been totally blown away. She saw sections of her fence on her neighbor’s porch but couldn’t find the rest of it. When she looked out the front windows, she said she saw two large oak trees had fallen across the yard and her front porch right up to the front door, blocking it. She said several neighbors came over immediately to check on her family, and others came over with chain saws so she and her family could get out the front door.

Jasmine Wilson boiled down the situation.

“It was scary,′ she said. “I’m glad it’s over.”

Dominion Energy reported 6,000 customers were without power due to the storm.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jeff Caldwell said his agency considers the storms part of the remains of Florence, which left flooding rains across much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina over the weekend.

Caldwell said the department is tracking at least seven potential tornadoes in the Richmond area. He said the tornadoes still need to be confirmed by the National Weather Service.

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Richmond newsman Alan Suderman contributed to this report.

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