Two Years Later, Lynchburg Residents Reflect on 2012 Derecho

Lynchburg, VA - June 29, 2012 the derecho hit Central Virginia hard. Lynchburg was cleaning up from the storm that produced tornado-like winds, for weeks. Two years later if you talk to some of the people up and down Langhorne Road and in parts of Boonsboro, that night is one they'll never forget. Some say they're lucky to have even survived. Phil and Lois Sanders were home two years ago when a tree, landed in their living room. "I asked him, what on earth the noise was and he said we got a tree sitting in the middle of the house" said Lois. The derecho took a massive maple from their front yard and ripped it right from its roots. "We were very fortunate to make it out alive" said Lois. The derecho turned the Hill City upside down. Nearly 200,000 people were left without power in the area; some for almost two weeks. The howl of the near 90 mile an hour winds won't soon be forgotten. "The sound I heard was one of our big trees going down on Rivermont Terrace" said Shannon Justis. Justis took on dual roles that night; diverting traffic from the massive tree that blocked the road running by her home. "Cars were coming down the road not realizing the tree was down and everything was pitch black of course so they were crashing into the tree. It still seems like yesterday, I still get chills just talking about it" she said. "The devastation was amazing" said Lynchburg Mayor, Mike Gillette. The derecho welcomed Gillette to the office of Mayor. He was voted in just days after the storm, forced to learn the ropes during one of his city's toughest times. "I got sworn in and I think pretty much right away was touring the shelters that were being put up and working with city staff just to make sure everything was moving forward, it was an exciting time" he said. In all, the storm would cost th city more than $5.3 million and would require months of cleanup. Miraculously though, in Lynchburg at least, the storm did not claim a single life.