Virginia man killed in flash flood from Florence remnants

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man was killed Tuesday after his pickup truck was overtaken by rushing water during a flash flood caused by the remnants of Hurricane Florence.

Virginia State Police said the pickup was found upside down and submerged in water that had flooded Route 607 in Louisa early Tuesday.

Police said it appears that Richard Edward Kelih Jr., 59, was attempting to cross the road when water began rushing around his vehicle.

It’s the second death in Virginia attributed to Florence. On Monday, an employee of a flooring company died when a tornado touched down in Chesterfield, just south of Richmond.

The man’s identity has not yet been released. Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman Lt. James Elmore said the man was found dead under a pile of debris. A second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The building was nearly leveled. The roof blew off and debris was sent hundreds of yards across parking lots in the small industrial park where the company is located.

Elmore said four areas of Chesterfield received storm damage. Trees were downed and there was some structural damage.

The Chesterfield tornado has been categorized by the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia, as an EF2, with winds of up to 120 miles (about 190 kilometers) per hour.

Meteorologist Mike Rusnak confirmed that a second, less-powerful tornado touched down Monday near Chase City, in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, near the border with North Carolina. That tornado had wind speeds of 80 to 85 miles (about 130 to 135 kph) per hour.

“This is all from a tropical connection with Florence,” Rusnak said.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Bobby Hawkins said the tornado seemed to skip along the ground, touching down, then going up, then touching down again. Hawkins said the storm knocked down trees, damaged several homes and washed out some roadways, but no one was hurt.

Hawkins said the farmers and others in the rural community immediately came together to help each other. Cleanup was well under way Tuesday.

“We’ve got a bunch of Bubbas around here with power saws, and we can clear a road in five minutes,” Hawkins said. “They don’t have to wait for someone to tell them to do it.”

Rusnak said National Weather Service teams were out Tuesday assessing the damage and working to determine whether additional tornados touched down.

The weather service issued more than a dozen tornado warnings across several Virginia counties on Monday.

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