Saturday’s tornado also causes damage in Mathews

by Charlotte Crist, special correspondent - Posted on Apr 20, 2011 - 04:55 PM

The tornado that ripped through Gloucester and Middlesex did not leave Mathews unscathed. Damage was limited to the northern tip of the county where trees fell across roads and houses, leaving residents shaken and faced with an all-too-familiar task of cleaning up behind a tornado.

Around 7 p.m. Saturday, Margie Marchiano and Dave van Wickler were watching a television meteorologist track the vicious storms sweeping across Hampton Roads when Dave realized his home at North Point Lane in Mathews was covered by the projected path.

He told Margie to get in the laundry room while he gathered up her cat Daisy from the couch in the living room. Seconds after closing the laundry room door behind him, they heard the monster’s roar as it swept through the little community, snapping trees and slapping the house with debris.

They had heard the sound before. Three years before, almost to the day, the North Point neighborhood of 12-14 houses had been the target of a tornado that raced through the area, throwing trees onto houses, boats, cars and power lines. But Dave knew his house would stand a whole lot more. He built it himself in 1998. A New York native and the son of a carpenter who built many of the homes of Levittown, N.Y., the post-war archetype for mass-produced suburbia, Dave built his home to withstand hurricanes and, as it turned out, tornados.

But Margie, whose home is in Virginia Beach, was not so sure. She was terrified by the noise.

"It was over so quickly," she said Monday afternoon as she and Dave cleaned debris from his deck. "You really don’t have time to think."

After the storm passed, Dave used the fading sunlight to survey the damage outside. More than 20 of the loblolly pines that he and his family had planted on vacation time two decades ago were broken and mangled but the structural damage to his house was minor and his boats sat unharmed on their trailers. His landscaped pond, designed with help from John Machen of Mobjack Nursery and populated with exotic fish, was unscathed.