Strong storm rips through City

Strong storm rips through City

A deadly storm ripped through the region Wednesday afternoon, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power, trees sprawled across roads and people stranded in their cars.

The storm hit around 2:45 p.m. and continued for almost an hour, said Chris Strong, a spokesman for the National Weather Service. Tornado warnings were issued for several counties across Northern Virginia.

In Old Town, the covered walkway of the Lyceum at 201 S. Washington Street collapsed around 3 pm after an oak tree was uprooted and fell on a parked car and the ornate structure, which had been completed five years ago.

An eyewitness, Gary Eyler, said that he saw pedestrians running for cover as a super gust of wind and rain rolled down Washington Street. It must have galed up to 60 miles an hour, said Eyler, owner of the Old Colony Shop. People were running from King Street and the Lyceums portico just seemed like a logical place to go. But that one gust just took that old oak tree and twisted it out of the ground. Then we saw it fall on top of the cars and people fleeing from the portico. Then it just collapsed.

Early unconfirmed reports held that a person was trapped underneath the collapsed structure, and five units of the Alexandria Fire Department and Arlington Countys Technical Rescue Team were dispatched to the scene. Alexandria Police closed down Washington Street for nearly three hours while rescuers conducted their search. No one was found. Every time we have a potential collapse of this size we work together, said Capt. Luis Santana, the fire department spokesman. Luckily, we didnt find anyone.

The damage to the venerable and historic structure was estimated at over $1 million. There were also multiple reports of people stuck in elevators when power temporarily went out and of downed power lines across Alexandria.

In the Annandale area, a man was killed when live wires and a tree fell on an SUV he was riding in at Hummer Road and Marshall Drive, according to a Fairfax County Police spokesman. The man, who has not been identified, was in the passenger seat of a Toyota 4Runner.

Metrorail service at some stations was temporarily canceled, causing delays on other parts of the Metro line. The storm hit as Alexandria Public School students were being released, so many of them were on the road. Many students were kept at schools until much of the storm passed and were released slowly.

By 4:30 pm, about 240,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers were without power Wednesday afternoon, most of them in Northern Virginia, according to Le-ha Anderson, a spokeswoman for the power company.

Times writers Layla Wilder and Gregg McDonald contributed to this report.