An apparent tornado heavily damaged five homes in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach.
Battalion Chief Tim Riley of the city fire department said roofs were blown off and walls collapsed. Several other homes sustained less severe damage.
Riley said a tornado hasn't been confirmed, but the damage pattern suggests that it was a twister spun off from Hurricane Irene.
Emergency crews responded to a call about the apparent tornado about 10 a.m. The city had issued a mandatory evacuation for beachfront community Friday, and the homes were unoccupied. There were no injuries.
More than 500 people in Virginia Beach have sought shelter. Fire battalion chief James Ramsey said Saturday that residents in low-lying areas are being advised to seek shelter in one of five sites located in the city of 434,000. They can hold approximately 5,000.
At Birdsneck Elementary School, about 100 residents are encamped in a gymnasium. Entire families are encamped on mats rolled out on the basketball court.
They include sailor Willie Morris, his wife Keharia and their two young daughters, ages 5 years and 6 months.
Morris said he and his family sought out the shelter because their military housing is in a low-lying area. He said some of his neighbors also sought shelter.
- Watch Live: Hurricane Irene Coverage
- Track the storm with our interactive radar.
- Share your photos with us and other readers.
- Check the latest severe weather alerts.
- Prepare yourself and your home for the hurricane.
- By the numbers: Hurricane Irene.
- Dramatic photos of the hurricane.
- Power outages: Info from your power company.
- Complete weather coverage and News4 video forecasts.
- Hurricanes through history.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Sign up for our e-mail newsletters and get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text DCBREAKING to 622339 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)