Businesses inspect damage, reflect on tornado

Business owner discusses tornado's impact

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Many businesses in Chesterfield County are working to get back to normal after many describe the scary moments a possible tornado came through during peak business hours on Monday.

Several businesses experienced major damage as the EF2 packed 120 mph winds and ripped through an area near Hull Street Road.

“I don’t even know. I’m sort of like totally in shock. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Wilma St. John said.

As she sat in what’s left of her father’s office, her mind can’t grasp the devastation around her.

“My husband opened the front door and looked across the street and we could see it swirling.” St. John said. “My husband said we had to go, I asked him go where? He said get in the truck."

St. John and her family were inside their furniture store on Hull Street Road in Chesterfield when they saw the EF-2 tornado heading their way. St. John said. Her father started the furniture store and car business back in the late 1960s. Now the roof is caved in, windows blown out and tractor-trailers behind the building are overturned.

Cars for sale in the parking lot are destroyed, the trailer used to deliver furniture was tossed around like a toy.

“I said feels like the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ and I’m Scarlett. This is Tara and it’s gone. It’s ‘Gone With the Wind.’” St. John said.

A sign, possibly blown from miles away, landed in front of the business delivering a message from above.

"We will rebuild and come back." St. John said.

Other businesses in the area are working to reopen.

"It was pretty terrifying." Antonio Volo said.

Businesses in the Victorian Square Shopping Center on Hull Street Road also are recovering after the tornado rearranged some outdoor furniture before taking direct aim at the shopping center. Surveillance footage shows just how strong the winds were whipping around patio chairs outside Anna’s Italian Restaurant.

Surveillance video shows beginning of Chesterfield tornado damage

Antonion Volo said three air conditioning units at his family business were taken away by the storm.

"They are all gone. You can see the sky right there. We are going to try to get them patched up with some tarps or something.” Volo said.

A day later, the doors are open and customers are pouring in, but the damage remains.

“We had the water going through the ceiling. We have buckets right here, buckets in the back. We had puddles of water everywhere.” Volo said.

Outside the restaurant, a pole is bent all the way to the ground, Gabes Department store and Planet Fitness are temporarily closed due to damage sustained by the tornado.

“Concrete wall had fallen over. The top of the building was warped up and down.” Volo said. “We had customers stopping by, texting us asking if we were OK."

Tornadoes cause major damage to cars, businesses

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