That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

November 27, 2009

When the tornado demolished the WalMart in Colonial Heights, 1993

Filed under: newspaper clippings,Wal Mart — Anita @ 10:16 pm

When a tornado hit the Wal Mart in Colonial Heights in 1993.

I thought I made an entry about this over the Summer, but I guess not.

I remember my mom dropped me off at my half sisters that day while she went to a doctors appointment at Langley Air Force Base. She was supposed to pick me up that afternoon. Well, that didn’t happen. A tornado hit Langley, and mom and dad couldn’t get me from my half sisters until the next day. I remember my niece and I watching this torn up Wal Mart on TV the next day with dad.

I don’t know if Wal Mart built here again or not? Petersburg/Colonial Heights people, help?

Oh, and those twins! [/Coors ad]

You can see more damage from Colonial Heights/Petersburg from that tornado from these two videos:

I read that SouthPark mall was damaged too? Although I’ve never seen any photos of it.


  1. Not a local, but Goggle Maps shows a Colonial Heights Walmart at 671 Southpark Blvd. Listings are hazing, the Walmart marker on the map is easy to miss, but aerial and street views show the big box is there. And a Kmart across the way.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — November 28, 2009 @ 11:31 am | Reply

  2. yep through walmart was rebuild through not at it’s original site the site was trashed and a sam’s club is there now wal mart was rebuilt just a few blocks from the old site and there was very loittle damage to the mall itself through last year (i think?) there was another tornado the one that rrashed sufolk but before it got there it damaged the target across the road fro the rebuilt walmart,

    Comment by kris devereux — December 1, 2009 @ 2:23 am | Reply

  3. Yes, that Wal-Mart is back as a Super Wal-Mart. Not sure about the damage to Southpark Mall. I remember that incident happening as well.. Didn’t something else happen to that Wal-Mart before it was completely demolished? Like a fire?? My memory is slipping. The picture you posted is horrific.

    Comment by Goodboy — December 1, 2009 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  4. Hey there from someone who grew up near and worked in Colonial Hgts, VA in the late 1990s. My father was working in that Wal-Mart the day the tornado hit…we had just moved to VA a couple of months before that happened. Right across from the Walmart (yes– they rebuilt and it’s in fine condition) there is a bustling shopping center that (if I remember correctly, I was almost 14 at the time) got hit and some stores there lost power as well. I cannot remember much about Southpark Mall but it is within a mile of the Walmart so I’m sure it suffered damage. The area has grown and is very busy, especially with military customers from nearby Ft. Lee. The nearby Ukrop’s grocery store used to have a Rose’s and a Sonic drive-in at that shopping center; the Rose’s suffered damage. The Sonic is no longer there; the Ukrop’s rebuilt where Rose’s used to be. I worked there after it opened in early 1997 (?) and had worked at the old store beginning fall ’96. Everyone around there remembers that day, but the little city of Colonial Heights has made a full recovery as far as I can tell. They just opened a new multiplex cinema there about a year or two ago– it’s very nice.

    Comment by Lindsey — December 8, 2009 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  5. I don’t think Southpark Mall itself was damaged by the tornado, but Old Town Petersburg suffered some damage.
    The Phar-Mor across the street was badly damaged, and I don’t think it ever re-opened. A Michaels craft store is there now.
    The former Roses wasn’t damaged, but it is part of this story. Wal-mart opened a temporary store there until the new Wal-Mart could be completed a few blocks from the one destroyed by the tornado. The former Roses/ temporary Wal-Mart was then demolished, and Ukrop’s built a new store there, relocating from within the same shopping center.
    When the new Wal-Mart opened, it was the largest one in the US, but not for long I’m sure.

    Comment by Steven — December 25, 2009 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  6. As others have said, yep, the Wal-Mart was rebuilt as a Sam’s, with a new Wal-Mart across the street.

    One of the fortunate things about that tornado was that an off-duty Chesterfield County police officer saw the tornado coming and managed to stop traffic on I-95 before the tornado crossed the highway to hit the Wal-Mart.

    There was another tornado that hit the same area before the Wal-Mart tornado and there’s been another since. It’s very odd for a place in Virginia to be so tornado-prone.

    The most recent tornado managed to hit the tall pylon sign for the Target but the only thing it did to the sign was knock oput the Target bullseye, which was quite weird.

    Comment by Dave — December 28, 2009 @ 8:47 am | Reply

  7. I remember when the tornado came through. I was 12 y.o. and home alone with my brother (11 y.o.) and my sister (8 y.o.). My mom was working at MCV as a nurse and she couldn’t leave because there were so many patients being diverted there and my dad was a volunteer with the Prince George Rescue Squad and they were helping Colonial Heights rescue in the area of the WalMart. I think that Walmart was doomed from the beginning. A year or two before the tornado ripped it apart, a worker was shot while stocking shelves in what I think was some kind of domestic issue (my brother was on the same aisle with her and saw it happen), then it was hit by the tornado and then what was left was demolished by fire.

    Comment by Heather — March 10, 2010 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  8. The Wal-Mart was buldozed and replaced by a Sam’s Club. A newer, larger Wal-Mart was built a block away. A strip mall called Southgate Square just south of Southpark Mall was severely damaged and I think might be considered part of the mall in the damage reports. Given the size of the outer vortex of the tornado, I expect there was a great deal of tree damage around the Mall itself. The tornado punched through the strip mall through the K-Mart, then removed the roof from the store that has been replaced by a Sagebrush Steakhouse. It moved over the city water tower before going through the front door of the Wal-Mart, after which it tracked through the woods. It knocked down some concrete buildings in the Vulcan Minerals gravel and sand pit, after which it re-entered the woods. The tornado passed over the Varina-Enon bridge, flipping an 18-Wheeler before it dissipated. The outer vortex of the tornado was about a quarter mile wide, but the stronger vortex inside the tornado produced most of the damage. Evidence of the inner vortex was shown by the corkscrew path of the damage as it traveled around the outer circulation.

    The EF1 that struck the area in April 2008 crossed the path of the 1993 tornado near the water tower, striking the relatively new strip mall between the old Wal-Mart site and the new one.

    Comment by Ellie — May 2, 2011 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  9. I remember it very well. The tornado ripped through Walmart then proceeded to travel down the road between Walmart and Southpark mall like a car would travel. It blew out he windows in Sear and did minor internal damage near the front of Sears. The rest of the mall was OK. No one was injured in Sears.

    Comment by Nancy — May 11, 2011 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  10. I remember this so well. It was before I was heading off to my freshman year at JMU. My mom and I were running college errands that day and the only Walmart was the one in Colonial Heights. The one in Chester hadn’t been built yet. I had gone to register for my absentee ballot and we were going to head to Walmart to do some dorm shopping but decided against it because the weather was so bad. Next thing I know the local news cuts in on afternoon television with a report of a tornado. Turns out that one of my friends from high school was working at Walmart that day and helped pull a woman out of the rubble who’d been nearly decapitated. I never did know how to ask him about that. Yes, as everyone else has said the Walmart was rebuilt in a different spot.

    Comment by Jen — May 12, 2011 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  11. I worked in Old Towne, Petersburg when the tornado came through. I was at Old Town Gift Shop which at that time was 13 Old St. Me and 2 girls were upstairs when the roof caved in on one side of the building trapping one of the girls between the roof and the wall that was behind her. The building beside ours was a 3 story and ours was 2 stories. The bricks from the wall of the 3 story building fell on top of me and the other girl. She was under roughly 3 feet of brick and all you could see was her head and arms from the elbows to her hands. I was under about 4 feet of brick due to being against the wall connecting the two buildings. I was fortunate enough to be under my table. No on ewas severely injured where i worked, but we were banged up pretty good!

    Comment by Scott — June 3, 2012 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  12. This is a video I made of allt he damage I could find back then.

    Comment by Robert — July 20, 2012 @ 9:51 am | Reply

  13. Oh hell. I didn;t realize you already posted both my other video too. Anyway there are about 2 of them on my account one is very long with no editing.

    Comment by Robert — July 20, 2012 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  14. I took the videos. Near the middle of the one with music is some great pictures of Wal-Mart after the storm.

    Comment by Robert Mitchem — November 22, 2012 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  15. Well, my dad was the first responder on the scene, a Chesterfield County Police Officer, and he said he was crazy. People were coming up to his car, bleeding, and crying for help.

    Comment by mlp901 — May 13, 2013 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  16. 20 years ago I drove a 24ft Ryder truck back and forth between Suffolk and Richmond delivering vending machine snacks to a warehouse. That fateful day I crossed the Varina-Enon Bridge maybe 10 minutes before the tornado struck. Coming back I saw several 18 wheelers flipped over on their side on the northbound lanes on the bridge.. Had I been on the bridge when it was struck I am convinced I could have been tossed off the bridge. A Ryder truck is pretty high profile and it was lightly loaded for its size.

    Comment by Randall Jacques — July 23, 2013 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  17. They rebuilt the walmart across the street of the original walmart. In its place is a sam’s club…. Ironically, every few years that same area will get a Tornado. It has been struck several times since 1993 but never the same damage. The path of the tornado rides off the river that surrounds that area, which feeds the air for tornados.

    Comment by lanayah — March 25, 2014 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  18. Thanks for sharing my videos.

    Comment by Rob — July 25, 2014 @ 7:28 am | Reply

  19. Wal mart rebuilt nearby, one of the first super Wal marts. Replaced that location with a sams club after.

    Comment by Kenny — August 9, 2016 @ 1:14 am | Reply

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