Virginia Beach residents work to repair homes devastated by tornado

  • Ricardo Melgoza stands in his backyard, which was damaged by a tornado that passed through on March 31, 2017. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • A 10,000-pound truck belonging to Ricky Melgoza was flung from the street into a neighbor's driveway during a tornado that passed through on March 31, 2017. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • A home on Magma Way was severely damaged by a tornado that passed through the Rock Creek neighborhood on March 31, 2017. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • Homes were damaged and condemned after a tornado passed through the Rock Creek neighborhood on March 31, 2017. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • A woman looks at a condemned sign hanging on the front door of her Rock Creek home on April 1, 2017. Her house was damaged by a tornado that passed through the area a day before. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • Homes were damaged in the Rock Creek neighborhood on March 31, 2017 after a tornado passed through Virginia Beach. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

  • The field house at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach lost its roof.

    The field house at Landstown High School lost its roof. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

  • A soccer goal sits on the track at Landstown High School

    A soccer goal sits on the track at Landstown High School. (Justin Belichis)

  • Virginia Beach crews work on a traffic light at Elbow Road and Salem Road.

    Crews work on a traffic light at Elbow Road and Salem Road. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

  • Tiggle and his friends see the damage at Landstown High School.

    Tiggle and his friends see the damage at Landstown High School. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily

  • A Virginia Beach father and son enter the Landstown High School field to practice running, despite the damages.

    A father and son enter the Landstown High School field to practice running, despite the damages. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

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VIRGINIA BEACH — On a nearly cloudless Saturday morning, Brandon Liburd was outside of his Rock Creek home cleaning up debris.

It wasn’t how the 36-year-old homeowner planned to spend his weekend.

Liburd’s home — and about 60 others — were damaged by a tornado that whipped through Virginia Beach on Friday night, leaving a path of destruction for about four miles along Elbow Road and Salem Road.

No one was injured during the storm, said Virginia Beach Fire Department spokesman Art Kohn, but about 32 people were displaced from their homes and a dozen houses were condemned.

Liburd was inside his house around 6 p.m. when he heard rain coming down hard. When he looked out of a window he saw what looked like a cloud close to the ground.

It was headed for his home, with garbage cans and house siding in its wake.

“As soon as I saw stuff flying like that I knew it was serious,” he said.

Liburd and his girlfriend took cover in the middle of the house and waited for the tornado to pass. It took about 45 seconds.

The damage to Liburd’s home was extensive. The tornado tore holes in the left side of his house and destroyed his truck. The garage ceiling was damaged by water, and Liburd said he won’t be surprised if it collapses.

“I’m devastated,” he said. “Mother Nature is Mother Nature. There’s nothing you can do about it. Only thing that can’t be replaced is me and my family. I’m standing here and nobody died. I call that a win.”

Still, other Rock Creek homes were hit worse that Liburd’s.

The right side was completely torn off of the upper portion of a blue and white house on Magma Court. From the street, a wooden dresser and bed frame were visible in an upstairs bedroom. Clothing and insulation hung from the branches of trees in the back yard.

A woman, who wanted to be identified as Betina C., watched from the driveway of another Rock Creek home as a group of Landstown High School soccer players cleaned up debris from her parents’ front yard.

Betina C. said her mom was out walking the dog as the tornado ascended. The wind knocked her over in the front yard. When she made it into the house, she, her husband and the dog huddled together in the pantry.

The upstairs of the home was damaged, as well as the backyard and several cars.

Down the road on Meadow Crest Way, Ricardo Melgoza was outside cleaning up tornado damage around his house.

Melgoza and his wife, Laura, were supposed to take a four-hour drive on Saturday have a fancy dinner at the Chef and Farm in North Carolina. The pair were celebrating their 31-year anniversary.

Melgoza said he’s going to cancel the reservation. Their home is still without power and his son’s 10,000-pound truck was flung from the street in front of their house onto a neighbor’s driveway.

Melgoza and his family weathered the storm from the middle of their home. Their dog, Blanca, was so frightened by the intensity of the tornado that she wet herself as it passed through.

Melgoza said the sound was so intense it made his ears pop.

“It sounded like a freight train,” he said.

A fence separating Melgoza’s home from Elbow Road was destroyed, along with trees in his backyard and part of his porch.

Some of the porch furniture is gone, and Melgoza doesn’t know where it flew. There is unfamiliar siding strewn across his back yard, possibly from neighbors who were also impacted.

“Now we can say we lived through a tornado together,” he said.

The fields at Landstown High School took a big hit, too.

Scattered soccer goals and bleachers littered the field’s track area and the field house’s roof was missing. Despite the damages, it didn’t stop athletes from practicing on its track.

“I’m just trying to get my work out in. I know there’s a lot on the far end of the track, so we’re definitely trying to stay away from there,” runner Brianna Norman said.

“If you could have told me yesterday morning that Virginia Beach would get hit by a tornado, I would have been like ‘you’re lying to me.'”

Landstown High School junior and track athlete Kiyaun Tiggle came to the field with his friends to see that his home turf wasn’t the same as it was the last time he ran it.

“It’s breathtaking,” Tiggle said. “The pole vault area its’t even there and there’s a bleacher in the tree. This doesn’t happen often.”

VBFD, Virginia Beach Police Department and Dominion Virginia Power units were on the scenes of the damaged homes doing wellness checks and trying to restore power on Saturday.

The city will likely release a final report of the damage on Saturday night.

Mayfield can be reached at adrienne.m@southsidedaily.com.

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Adrienne Mayfield is an award-winning, multi-media journalist hailing from Clermont, Fla. She moved to Lynchburg, Va. on a whim when she was 19, and worked her way to Hampton Roads in 2013. Adrienne is passionate about telling people stories via covering public safety and the judicial system. She isn’t afraid to take a heads-on approach to covering crime, including knocking on doors to get the details police aren’t sharing. Adrienne is a 2014 Old Dominion University graduate who still lives within walking distance of the college. You may see her cruising around Downtown Norfolk on her bike, enjoying a sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro or playing fetch with her dog, Greta, at the Colonial Place dog park.