Fund Established for Children of Tornado Victims

Lord Balatbat and Lolibeth Ortega shown with their three children: Lheandrew, 13, Lharizia Ann, 12, and Lheana Ann, 7

Lord Balatbat and Lolibeth Ortega shown with their three children: Lheandrew, 13, Lharizia Ann, 12, and Lheana Ann, 7

July 26, 2014

A fund for the three children of the couple who died in the tornado at Cherrystone Campground has been set up at PNC Bank.

All monies contributed will be distributed to the court-appointed legal guardian of the children.

Organizers hope that Shore residences will pull together and help these kids who have lost their parents.

Mail checks to:

Balatbat-Ortega Children’s Fund
PNC Bank
PO Box 623
Onley, VA 23418

Checks may also be hand delivered to the PNC bank in Onley.

County Overview of Storm Aftermath


July 25, 2014

 The state of emergency has been lifted effective 8:30 a.m., Friday, July  25. 

 A strong thunderstorm with damaging winds and hail impacted the Cherrystone Campground area of Northampton County around 8:30 a.m. on July 24. Impacts from this wind event were extensive with many overturned campers and vehicles.  In addition many campsite patrons were injured, with the Northampton EOC reporting 35 injuries requiring hospitalization and 2 confirmed fatalities.  National Weather Service Wakefield visited the site and has confirmed the damage is consistent with an EF-1 tornado.

Northampton County declared a state of emergency immediately following initial response.  Search and rescue operations were immediate and were well coordinated among various federal, state and local agencies.  A mandatory evacuation of the campground was issued and  1,380 visitors to the campsite were evacuated to Northampton High School for temporary shelter.   Many camp patrons subsequently found individual shelter options while others remained at the Northampton shelter.   In the late afternoon, camp patrons were allowed temporary access to the campsite to retrieve personal items.

Northampton County requested assistance from the Hampton Roads Incident Management Team to continue overnight operational planning and coordination.  This team will serve in an incident support role for Northampton County to assist in the recovery efforts.   By 9 p.m. July 24 the Northampton shelter was closed, as most camp patrons had found temporary housing solutions.

Today, camp patrons will be allowed additional site access for the purposes of property recovery and personal property damage assessment.  Governor Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to arrive at the campsite at 10:45 a.m. to conduct a site assessment and deliver a press conference.  Media assets will be allowed to park at a designated staging area and will be allowed limited and controlled access within the campsite.  [Read more...]

EXTRA: County Declares Local Emergency

Overturned camper at Cherrystone Campground (Photo: Jordan Bertok)

Overturned camper at Cherrystone Campground (Photo: Jordan Bertok)

July 24, 2014



WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Northampton does hereby find that due to the tornado which occurred on July 24, 2014, the County of Northampton is facing a condition of extreme peril which necessitates the proclamation of the existence of an emergency in order to provide mitigation, preparedness, and activities to protect life and property;

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED that an emergency now exists throughout said County; and

IT IS FURTHER PROCLAIMED AND ORDERED that during the existence of said emergency the powers, functions, and duties of the Director of Emergency Services, and the Peacetime Emergency organization of the County of Northampton shall be those prescribed by state law and the ordinances, resolutions, and approved plans of the County of Northampton in order to mitigate the effects of said emergency.

Date:  July 24,  2014
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
County of Northampton
Commonwealth of Virginia

Northampton County issued the following press release at 11 a.m.:

At approximately 8:30 this morning, a tornado struck the Cherrystone area just north of Cape Charles, VA, and moved across the lower Eastern Shore (DelMarVa Peninsula) toward the east over parts of Cheriton. The area impacted includes some of the more populated neighborhoods in the county. Early reports indicate heavy damage was sustained. A tornado alert was issued just before the storm hit. However, one heavily impacted area was a concentration of camp vehicles along the Chesapeake Bay. [Read more...]



Register for Scholastic Chess Tournament July 26

Calling all chess players! Kiptopeke Elementary School is pleased to be the host for the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association’s “Eastern Shore Summer Scholastic” chess tournament, Saturday July 26. [Read more...]

SATURDAY 7/26: Cheriton Fitness Challenge VFD Benefit

On July 26, Jacob Parks, Personal Training will host the first annual Cheriton Fitness Challenge to raise money for donation to the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Department. CLICK for poster with details.

MONDAY 7/28: Mega Sports Camp Begins at Cape Charles Baptist

July 28-August 1st from 5:30 p.m-8 p.m., Cape Charles Baptist will be having our free annual Mega Sports Camp.  This camp is for kids K through 6th grade.  We want to give kids the chance to learn more about sports, discover character-building concepts, and discover God’s plan for their lives. [Read more...]

Publish Your Event in the Cape Charles Wave

Holding an event of interest to the general public in or near Cape Charles? Send an email to
[email protected] and your event will be listed in ON THE TELEPHONE POLE. Events will normally be publicized the same week they occur. Deadline for submission is the preceding Saturday.

Shorekeeper Condemns Move to Begin Oil Exploration

July 21, 2014: In response to the Obama Administration’s announcement to move forward with oil exploration along the East Coast, Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Executive Director Jay Ford released the following statement:

“We are deeply troubled and disappointed by the administration’s decision to move forward with oil exploration along the East Coast. By the administration’s own admission this move will lead to the loss of thousands of marine creatures through the use of seismic cannons. Furthermore, this move represents a step backwards for America’s energy future. [Read more...]

1 Comment

ESO Summer Camp Still Accepting Sign-Ups

For years ESO Arts Center, the Shore’s first arts school, has provided a safe, creative and fun summer outlet for children ages 4 through 11. There is still time to sign up your children and grandchildren for ESO Summer Camp 2014 running July 21 to August 2. [Read more...]

Change of Command at American Legion Post 56

On July 8, Dave Steward passed the leadership role for American Legion Post 56 to incoming Commander Joe Vaccaro. The ceremony was well attended and Vaccaro praised Steward for his efforts to support the veterans on the shore. Vaccaro pledged to continue Steward’s efforts and announced that he would seek more membership for Post 56 and advocate for a Community Based Outpatient Clinic for the shore. [Read more...]


Don’t Like Town Water? It Could Get Worse



Cape Charles Wave

July 21, 2014

There’s a limited supply of groundwater in the Cape Charles vicinity, and the town needs to prepare to deal with saltwater intrusion now. That’s according to Elaine Meil of the Accomack-Northampton County Planning District Commission, who addressed the Cape Charles Planning Commission June 30. Meil said the problem is still a few years away, but that the town needs to begin planning for it.

According to groundwater modeling done by the United States Geological Survey, “saltwater intrusion can be expected in town wells over time and the town should be aware of this problem,” Meil said, adding that:

  • Groundwater studies have shown limited groundwater in the Cape Charles vicinity. This is a natural feature of the area.
  • The Eastern Shore of Virginia Ground Water Committee works extensively on groundwater issues and they have funded the USGS to develop a groundwater model. This model is the best source of information regarding changes to groundwater in the Cape Charles area.
  • Long term, the Town may need to change water treatment technologies or obtain water from the Eastville area of Northampton County or possibly from the southern tip.

Town staff has applied to renew the 10-year DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) Groundwater Withdrawal Permit at 68 million gallons per year, a reduction from 252 million gallons per year. The current use is just under 40 million gallons per year, Meil noted. [Read more...]

1 Comment

EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45


July 21, 2014

How many more people have to die, how many more vehicles must be destroyed, how many more close calls must there be before VDOT awakes to the deadly danger of Route 13 north and south of the Cape Charles traffic light? If Route 13 is Virginia’s most dangerous highway, we will nominate the Cape Charles/Cheriton area as the most dangerous patch of it.

The traffic light itself is not the problem so much as the multiple turnoffs mostly south of the light. Two of our neighbors had their cars totaled in the past few years — one trying to cross the highway to get to the Corner Mart, the other a victim of someone pulling out from McDonald’s directly in front of her.

Last week we saw something new and scary: a full-size charter bus leaving McDonald’s was trying to turn left onto Route 13. Judging by the line of cars behind the bus, the driver had to wait a long time for a break in the traffic.

Why does the speed limit drop to 45 mph on the bypass around Exmore but not in the Cape Charles/Cheriton area? The danger here is arguably worse than in Exmore (which funds their entire Police budget from speeding tickets).

Our most recent heart-stopper (and the inspiration for this editorial) came from waiting in the left-hand lane on 13 to turn onto Stone Road. An 18-wheeler roared past at full speed only a few feet away, violently shaking our stopped van in the jet stream. We were literally “sitting ducks.” And as everyone knows, a 55 mph limit means it is your God-given right (and duty) to drive 60 — and this trucker was doing his duty.

At least we were encased in a two-ton van; pity the pedestrian who tries to navigate that death-trap. Earl Wayne Spady was hit by a truck last month while trying to cross Route 13 on foot at night. May he rest in peace. [Read more...]


Wake Up to Danger of Saltwater Intrusion


July 21, 2014

A few nights ago, plagued by a fit of insomnia, I downloaded a copy of the Cape Charles Planning Commission’s June 30 meeting agenda. Hoping the content would induce a much needed sleep, I quietly perused the document. As usual, it was filled with the same vapid and gooey pap that has come to define the Natali-McCoy Planning Commission. There was some talk of promoting a museum for the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater, but then, buried deep down in the weeds, a discussion of saltwater intrusion, and how it will affect the Town. In a cavalier, dim, nonchalant tone, it states:

The Town has limited groundwater resources. In the future, saltwater intrusion may necessitate the Town update water treatment technologies or possibly obtain water from a different location. 

So, what are they talking about? In a nutshell, saltwater intrusion (high concentrations of total dissolved solids making it unfit for human consumption) is the movement of saline water into freshwater aquifers. Aquifers are saturated geologic materials that yield usable quantities of drinking water to wells. In our case, we rely on the Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifers and there are no other viable economical alternative drinking water sources. The Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is considered highly vulnerable to salt water contamination due to the high levels of ground-water pumping from coastal wells (like our Keck wells). As towns like Cape Charles continue to over-develop (large developments such as Bay Creek ), ground-water use increases to the point that these areas become vulnerable to contamination and brings into question the viability of ground-water sustainability.

Well drillers around here can attest to the abundance of bad-tasting ground water in parts of southeastern Virginia– a large body of salt water, known as a salt water wedge has been blamed for undrinkable ground water that extends from the mouth of Chesapeake Bay into the Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifers. For many years, scientists thought the wedge was caused by the incomplete flushing of ancient seawater that had invaded the aquifers during high stands of the sea. Understanding of Virginia’s inland saltwater wedge changed in 1993 when David Powars of the U.S. Geological Survey and geologist C. Wylie Poag, while studying the Atlantic Coastal Plain made an important discovery. Deep sedimentary cores identified a large impact crater formed by a meteorite near what is now the mouth of Chesapeake Bay ( three times larger than any other U.S. crater and the sixth largest crater known on Earth). [Read more...]


EXTRA: Town Manager Resigning in September




July 17, 2014

(Updated to include statement by Mayor Proto)

Cape Charles Town Manager Heather Arcos has revealed that she is resigning from her position effective in September. Arcos reportedly plans to work with her father, Steve McCready, one of the owners of Northampton Growers in Cheriton. She is a single mother, and has told friends that she wants to spend more time with her 12-year-old son.

Arcos was a protégé of former Mayor Dora Sullivan, who stepped down June 30 after eight years in office. Both Sullivan and Arcos earlier worked as office clerks at Town Hall, with Sullivan becoming a member of Town Council and then mayor, while Arcos worked her way up to become town manager. [Read more...]


A Piece of Railroad History Returning Friday

Pennsylvania sign board as shown on Barge 605 is coming home. (Photo: Eastern Shore Railway Museum)

Pennsylvania sign board as shown on Barge 605 is coming home. (Photo: Eastern Shore Railway Museum)

Cape Charles Historical Society

July 17, 2014

Friday, July 18, at the Town Harbor the symbolic return of a piece of Cape Charles railroad history will occur. An early 1900s yacht will enter the harbor displaying on deck a 20-foot-long name board with the word “Pennsylvania.”

These boards were attached to the side of the pilot houses on the old Pennsylvania Railroad barges that have been a part of the harbor scene in Cape Charles since the 1880s.

The name board will be crossing the bay on the yacht Mar-Sue following the early route of the barges from Port Norfolk on the Elizabeth River to the harbor in Cape Charles. The event was made possible when Cape Charles Historical Society member and railroad enthusiast Jim Curtin of Chesapeake offered this piece of history, which has been in his possession for decades, to the society last March. [Read more...]