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 residents 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...]


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...]

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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...]


Developer Devalues Old School; County Agrees

After the Town of Cape Charles sold its only basketball court to a developer, it also removed the hoops and backboards for “safekeeping.” The purchaser, J. David McCormack, then argued to the county that he should not have to pay property tax on the court because it no longer had any value. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

July 14, 2014

The Old School in Central Park was valued on the tax rolls at $921,000 when the Town of Cape Charles sold it for $10 in December 2012 to a developer.  J. David McCormack promised to invest over $2 million to convert the school into a 17-unit apartment building, and town officials saw dollar signs in increased property tax.

But after taking ownership of the building, McCormack informed County officials that while he still plans to spend $2 million, he nevertheless estimates the ultimate value of the school and property to be as low as $750,000.  McCormack made that statement in an appeal to Northampton County to lower his tax assessment, and the county complied.

The 2013 county-wide reassessment dropped the school property from $921,000 to $510,900. But McCormack argued that the value should be much less. He noted that the basketball court was valued at $8,000, but pointed out that “the basketball hoops have been dismantled by the Town of Cape Charles, and the courts are no longer in use.” (The Wave reported in December 2012 that after the town sold the school property, it removed the basketball hoops at town expense, even though the hoops no longer belonged to the town.)

McCormack claimed that due to the removal of the hoops the court should have a value of zero, but the county would not go that far. It did, however, drop the assessed court value from $8,000 down to $2,500. [Read more...]


Town Says Pound Net Would ‘Eliminate’ Fun Pier Fishing

Cherrystone Campground Also Affected


June 23, 2014

The Town of Cape Charles has reacted strongly to applications to place pound nets in the Bay near the Town Fun Pier and near Cherrystone Campground. The pound nets “would directly eliminate the supply of fish” to the Cape Charles Fun Pier and to the Cherrystone piers, according to a letter to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission signed by Mayor Dora Sullivan.

The letter names four reasons why the pound net application should be denied:

– Recreational Fishing: Thousands of people visit the Fun Pier annually, and the pound net would “eliminate” the supply of fish to the pier.

– Environment: The pound net would likely use old telephone poles treated with creosote. “We don’t understand why this is allowed,” the letter states.

– Safety and Health: A fishing vessel next to the Federal Channel could hinder safe navigation, and seagulls attracted to the catch could hinder operations at Bayshore Concrete Products.

– Tourism: Issues cited above, as well as additional flies, “could cause the harbor and beach areas to become undesirable to the point that our visitors may not return.”

The letter also complains that the VMRC did not notify the Town of the application. By the time the Town found out, the 30-day comment period had ended.

Applications for pound nets require an advertisement in a local newspaper, followed by a 30-day period for public comment. The advertisement apparently was not noticed by town officials, and no other notice was received. [Read more...]


County Rezoning Postponed 90 Days


June 16, 2014

At its June 10 regular meeting the Northampton County Board of Supervisors agreed to wait 90 days before taking any further steps toward rezoning the county to make it more “business friendly.” The 90 days are for residents to provide ideas on how to revitalize the county’s economy and increase revenues without destroying its fragile habitat.

The June 10 Board of Supervisors meeting came after the Planning Commission informed the Supervisors that it was only halfway through its review of the massive proposed zoning changes.  The Supervisors have not yet acted to allow the Planning Commission additional time to complete its review.

“Citizens for Open Government” spokesperson Ken Dufty said, “The 90 days will give us a chance to further our outreach through letters to the editor, flyers, and talking to our neighbors. It will also give us a chance to prepare for a legal challenge to the BOS if they move forward with revising the zoning ordinance in stark contrast to our current Comp Plan.”

Many speakers at the meeting raised their concerns about the draft zoning ordinance for failing to follow the County Comprehensive Plan. Although the plan is currently under review for its five-year update, it remains the legal basis for county decisions about development.

Several speakers questioned why some of the Supervisors want to change the direction of the county so radically.

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