FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) - Public safety officials are learning more about the path Friday’s EF-3 tornado took when it touched down in Franklin County.
Homeowners are now dealing with insurance and trying to get crews out to help them clean up.
“We were washing eggs and getting things ready and I was downstairs and I heard my phone go off telling me that there was a tornado in the area.”
John Walke lives on Ashpone Tavern Road in Franklin County. Friday morning he heard the tornado go by after heading into his basement. Next he heard what happened to one of his neighbors.
"He said, 'well the trees are down at my house, something blew off my house, something blew on my house,'" Walke explained.
That "something" were massive trees in one family's yard. Nearly a dozen came down, several of them falling into the roof. The family of that home told WDBJ7 over the phone that they hid in the basement with their newborn sons and are thankful no one was hurt.
"It's always kind of shocking to see how large trees can be tossed around like tinker toys," Walke said.
Throughout the neighborhood the damage is less severe. Walke's fence needs repairing, several people need roof work, and at least one family lost their car to a fallen tree.
But many people in this town are saying it could have been much worse.
"A lot of folks, at least the folks we dealt with, I didn't know what was different but they seemed to heed the alert this time," said Public Safety Director Billy Ferguson.
Ferguson said the tornado had max winds of 159 miles per hour and was 250 yards at its widest. If it was about six miles per hour faster, it would have been categorized as an EF-4.
"It touched down and then it kind of traversed in this northeast direction."
He pointed out on a map the eight mile path the tornado made, damage at least 12 structures, destroying two of them.
He and Walke are marveling today at how important it is to listen to mother nature.
"We're in Franklin county, this is something I see on national news that's in Oklahoma," Ferguson said. "This is not in Franklin County, but the magnitude of those storms what it can do."
Ferguson said he is creating a timeline of the storm and will be sharing his findings with other agencies so that they can improve their storm plan. So far he believes the plan was 95 percent effective. Future improvements, he believes, will include improvements to communication and redirecting traffic on Route 220 if it has to be shut down again.
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