One year later: tornadoes tore through small communities in far Southwest Virginia last April. Deadly twisters did the most damage in Halifax County and the Glade Spring part of Washington County. Four people were killed; dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed.
What took those tornadoes seconds to rip apart one year ago, has taken a year of sweat and tears to rebuild. For those folks who lost most, if not all, of their belongings, they remember it all like it was yesterday.
From the air, the destruction was overwhelming. On the ground, unbelievable. But now, the rebound is evident. New construction, with remnants of what used to be in the background. "You could see it swirling. You could see things in it. It was horrifying. We managed to get into the basement, but it took the three of us to hold the basement door shut," said Martha Jo Price, a tornado victim.
She is still haunted by the freight train noise that tornado made. It tore off the right side of her home and most of her roof. "The loss of life was the worst, worst thing and I think it came to show me how little material possessions mean," Price explained.
That twister made its way across the street to Ted and Doris Lester's place. "I got him up and we barely got to the bathroom closet. I sat him down and sat down on his lap. Didn't have time to shut the door or anything," Doris Lester told us. That bathroom and the bedroom next door were all that was left of their more than 80 year old home. "It just seems like a dream or something," she said.
Across Interstate 81, the twister left a mangled, metal mess of tractor trailers at the Petro truck stop. "You don't come up on a scene and expect it to look like this. You see it on TV and in the South but not in Virginia," said Scott Sutphin, store manager of the Petro.
As quickly as that terrible storm moved through, the cleanup and construction began. "I said this foundation here still means a lot to us," said Doris Lester. The Lester's rebuilt from their old foundation. They moved in about six months after construction, and their new home was finished last week.
Price's home is repaired too. Now, she working to on the yard and gardening. "Some of these are rose of sharon, hemlock, maples," Price said as she pointed out the new trees, flowers and bushes she's planted.
The Petro truck stop was back up to speed in about 6 weeks. "We had to replace the roof. We had to replace the windows. All the diesel pumps and canopy had to be replaced," Price said.
These folks seem to agree, all of the destruction, brought them closer together. "Glade Spring will always be my home and I'm just very happy to be here," said Price with a smile." Ted and Doris Lester nodded, "It's just amazing, and we thank the Lord everyday that we're here."
Governor Bob McDonnell plans to visit that area hit by the tornadoes on Friday as well as Pulaski County, which was stuck two weeks before that, also in April.
For a look back at WDBJ7's coverage of the tornadoes, click here.