There’s a massive debris field in Southampton County, and residents like Johnie Coggsdale say Thursday’s storm was all about timing.
“It blew this door open and stopped the clock at 12:35,” Coggsdale said, a few hours after his electricity went out.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, most people in his blue-collar community were working. That’s why Coggsdale, who calls himself a small-town musician, could say on a day that left plenty of damage, the timing of the storm was a blessing.
“I fared better than my neighbor,” he said. “I’m lucky to be alive. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but at least I’m not laid up in a hospital all broke up or dead. That’s the main thing.”
State police say there was a path of damage, most of it off Route 58. But no one was seriously injured.
About a hundred yards from Coggsdale’s home, you can see how the storm intensified. One house doesn’t have very much damage, but nearby a trailer home was split apart from the porch, the foundation shifted.
A little further, you can see how hail stones obliterated the siding of a house. And the wind was so strong it toppled big oak trees and sent tree branches flying, with one lodging in the back bumper of a car.
“You wouldn’t consider it a tornado,” Coggsdale said. “Because it didn’t touch down but it was a mighty, terrible, forceful wind.
It only lasted a few minutes, just long enough to destroy pictures and other things of sentimental value.
“It’s something that just happens,” said Coggsdale. “You just gotta’ pick up and keep on getting it.”
All of this couldn’t even get a man who was able to salvage some of his music equipment and cowboy boots to change his tune.
“I need to sing some gospel music,” Coggsdale said. “I just thank the lord I got through it. No, I ain’t gonna’ sing the blues.”
Late into Thursday evening, power crews were still working off in the distance. Nine power poles snapped on Green Plains Road off Route 58. On 58 itself — a main thoroughfare for Richmonders headed to the Outer Banks — both the east- and west-bound lanes are open.