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Cleanup begins after severe weather strikes Virginia Beach

A group of friends from Chesapeake, Va., work to help clear fallen trees on Elbow Road in Virginia Beach, Va., following a suspected tornado that hit the area on Friday, March 31, 2017. The National Weather Service will not be able to confirm whether a tornado - or tornadoes - hit Hampton Roads until Saturday. (Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Virginia Beach authorities say local jail inmates are helping with cleanup efforts after strong storms struck the Tidewater area.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office said Saturday that it is coordinating with city officials to dispatch inmate work crews to assist with cleanup from Friday night’s weather.

Authorities say dozens of homes were damaged and a church in Chesapeake nearly destroyed.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Meteorologist Mike Rusnak could not say whether there had been more than one twister.

“It may have touched down and lifted back up and touched down again,” Rusnak told The Virginian-Pilot.

There were no reports of injuries or deaths.

“It’s a miracle,” Art Kohn, a spokesman with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, said while surveying the Rock Creek neighborhood Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, leaders of Real Life Christian Church planned to meet Saturday to talk to insurance adjustors and perhaps find a temporary location for Sunday services.

“God is going to take care of it,” said church member James Green. “We are going to be all right.”

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