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'Just time to save yourself' page 3
Storms damaged homes and businesses throughout the region overnight.

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado is responsible for the damage in Stafford last night. The impact area was said to be from roughly the Cornerstone Baptist Church to just south of the airport.

The county is opening a Customer Service Center tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Berea Fire Station at 20 Sebring Way off Litchfield Boulevard. There will be information on repairs, permits and utilities available for affected residents.

County officials promise to speed up the permits process for residents of England Run North subdivision. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are assisting those whose homes sustained damage.

The mood at the shelter is one of relief - that no one was seriously hurt.

One resident of Foggy Field Road, Peter Ortell, said his family is moving out of the neighborhood at the end of the month: To Kansas.

- Keith Epps

See related multimedia
SLIDE SHOW: Click here to view images of the storm damage.
Date published: 5/9/2008

continued

Thinking it was a tornado, Gagnon woke up her two children, Catherine and Richard, and went to the basement. She then called her husband, who was out of town. Their daughter turned 13 today.

For the next few minutes, Gagnon said, “stuff was flying all over the place.”

Gagnon, who will be staying with relatives in the interim, initially didn’t find a lot of damage once the brunt of the storm passed. She later discovered that parts of her roof had collapsed completely and other significant damage.

“It’s trashed,” she surmised.

By about 2 a.m., officials estimated there were 30 to 40 residents using Gayle for shelter. The number had been higher, but an insurance agent let some of the evacuees know that anyone with his insurance was entitled to a motel room.

BUSINESSES HIT

Fredericksburg Fire Chief Eddie Allen said the only damage in the city was along Lansdowne Road, where it appears the possible tornado carved a direct path from the Spotsylvania County side through the city line.

Most of the damage there was limited to industrial companies.

Huntington estimates it sustained $1 million in damage—mostly from water falling on machinery. S&N Communications had an entire side of its building torn off.

In Gordonsville, Colonial Florist on Main Street was destroyed by fire around 4 a.m. Officials are checking to see if the blaze was related to the overnight storms.

On the Spotsylvania side of Landsdowne Road, Kaiser Compressor has gashes in its roof and water pouring in. Frank Mueller, Kaiser’s vice president for U.S. operations, believes a tornado came through sometime between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“It’s almost like a vacuum tried to rip the roof off, “ he said.

The building is closed today as they inspect the damage.

“This is what you have insurance for,” Mueller said. “You can’t be devastated by it.”

—Staff writer Robin Knepper contributed to this report.


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Mobile kitchen offers some relief

After last night’s storm, a preteen boy in a pajamas and bathrobe foraged for breakfast. He found some—in the form of a PopTart and juice—from the Salvation Army’s canteen.

The mobile kitchen opened at 11 a.m. at the England Run subdivision in Stafford County and later moved to Gayle Middle School. The canteen mainly serves the first responders helping residents whose homes were damaged in last night’s storms.

But many residents have stopped by for lunch, coffee and tea as well, said Captain Christine Harris of the Fredericksburg Area Salvation Army. In nearly two hours, more than 40 people have eaten lunch at the canteen, she said.

She and the group’s workers are stocking the canteens shelves and serving at the same time. This emergency marks the canteen’s début, since the agency’s earlier mobile kitchen was destroyed by arson two years ago, Harris said.

- Amy Umble, The Free Lance-Star