For most of Saturday, Gloucester residents went about the day under a tornado watch, which means simply the conditions are ripe for a tornado to form.
All the youth soccer games were played and the high school baseball and softball games started three hours earlier to beat the thunderstorms forecast for later that afternoon.
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It was a windy, cloudy afternoon, nothing exceptional for a day in mid-April. There was no hint of what was to come.
Abingdon Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad Fire Chief Herb Austin had been watching the Weather Channel all day, keeping an eye on the swarm of tornadoes that had swept across North Carolina and other parts of the South.
Then came the emergency broadcast Austin was dreading: A tornado had been spotted and was heading for Gloucester Point.
"I got all my gear and got in the truck," Austin said. "I was going to be somewhere other than Gloucester Point."
At 6:45 p.m., a tornado had formed in a black-colored storm cell that was just south of the Surry Power Plant in Surry County, according to a National Weather Service survey.
The tornado headed across the James River into James City County, where it tore through the Kingsmill and Grove communities before crossing the York River and taking aim at Gloucester.
When it touched land in Gloucester, the tornado was howling with three-second wind gusts estimated at between 136 and 165 miles per hour.
"I've lived here 30 years and I've never seen that," Austin said.
Trees were snapped like matchsticks or uprooted, singlewide trailers exploded and in some cases entire homes were lifted off foundations as the twister carved a path through Gloucester.
The first of the 758 calls made to the 911 center in Gloucester came at 7:07 p.m.
"The first call came in from the Shelly Road area from residents screaming into the phone that they had been hit by a tornado," said Gloucester Sheriff's Chief Dep. Darrell Warren.
A short time later, two deputies were in the Clopton area on Hickory Fork Road. One of the deputies had to take evasive action to miss a falling tree. Warren said they had just missed the tail end of the tornado.
Within moments someone was banging on the deputy's car window asking for help. The person lived on Hummingbird Lane, a private, narrow road that ends almost directly behind Page Middle School.
Austin said his department was first called out at 7:19 p.m. to respond to a couple trapped in a trailer on Hummingbird Lane. When the deputies and volunteer firefighters reached the home of Periclis and Ruth Ann Koutsombinas, all that remained was rubble.
"You can see the bricks there where the trailer sat," Austin said. "And there's no trailer. The frame for the trailer is 20 feet up in the air in the trees."
Periclis Koutsombinas, 60, had died of injuries by the time rescuers reached the home, but they managed to pull Ruth Ann Koutsombinas from the wreckage. She was seriously injured, but alive.
On Shelly Road, Richard Ingram, 53, was killed when his home was lifted off its foundation and slammed down yards away. Neighbors found his body in the garage.
Dozens of others in the area were more fortunate. Malisha Gray had been washing her hands in the kitchen sink of her Cedar Bush home when the lights began flickering around 7 p.m.