On Oct. 11, a tornado roared through James City County, ripping up trees and damaging houses in its path.
The tornado and Tropical Storm Michael, which brought high winds and rain to eastern Virginia, caused more than $1.6 million in damage to at least 32 houses in James City County, according to Board of Supervisors documents.
To help return life to normal, the county’s planning department is proposing waiving building permit fees for tornado- and storm-damaged homes.
“We just want to help folks and our residents get back to normal,” Planning Director Paul Holt said.
The resolution to waive the building permit fees is up for a vote at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Holt said at least two families were displaced because of the severity of the damage.
The waiver would only cover storm-damaged homes.
A wild storm
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Oct. 11 after a tornado watch was issued for a large portion of Virginia and North Carolina. The warning came during Tropical Storm Michael, which brought scattered showers, steady rain and high winds to the region.
In an Oct. 12 tweet, James City County officials confirmed a tornado had touched down in the Norge area.
There were no injuries, but there was damage at the Village at Candle Station, Colonial Heritage and Kristiansand.
At the time, James City County reported at least 14 homes were damaged, but that number has risen to 32 in the county’s official report.
“About half of them had gotten minor damage, the other half had some major damage,” Holt said.
Holt said the county employs assessors who go out after storms to see where the damage is and estimate the total financial impact.
Holt said the assessors evaluate damage and report the data back to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The information is not used for insurance purposes or reported to insurance companies, Holt added.
Fixing the damage
Building permits are not limited to new builds or additions — they can also be required for repairing damage, Holt said.
“It could be tree limbs or trees crashing into the roof, or a part of the wall,” Holt said.
Some fixes don’t require a building permit, like replacing cracked glass or repairing siding that has blown off.
Permit costs start as low as $70, but can range much higher depending on the type of work that is being done.
Holt said the county began planning ways to minimize long-term impacts of the storm after dealing with the immediate crises at the emergency operations center.
“When the storm passes, the conversation always turns to doing the (damage) assessments and how to prioritize getting life back to normal,” Holt said.
To help with storm cleanup, the county also waived debris disposal costs for those with storm-related materials through Oct. 28.
“This is a companion piece to that last month,” Holt said.
Those with questions about what requires a building permit should contact the James City County Planning Department at 757-253-6626.