Days after the weekend's severe thunderstorms, county residents still were cleaning debris and assessing damage from heavy winds, but officials said the rainfall made only a small dent in the drought.
The storm swept through the county Saturday afternoon, toppling trees and power lines in Round Hill, Purcellville and Leesburg, fire officials said. Lightning struck several homes and trees. Despite widespread damage, no injuries were reported.
"We were very lucky," said Mary Maguire, spokeswoman for Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services. "It could have been much worse."
Officials said the storm hit hardest in the Leesburg area, where wind gusts of up to 78 mph damaged eight planes at the Leesburg Municipal Airport as well as hangar roofs and doors. Two of the planes were overturned; others were battered and dented.
The storm, described by the National Weather Service as having "intense strong wind," first hit about 3 p.m. Saturday, keeping firefighters and rescuers occupied for hours.
The wind blew a trailer on the airport grounds into the intersection of Loudoun Center Place and Sycolin Road, officials said. The trailer had housed offices for a construction company working at the airport.
Officials have decided to close Oatlands Plantation, south of Leesburg, until Monday while workers clear away downed trees and branches that litter the grounds. David Boyce, acting executive director, said the gusts blew branches from a 150-year-old oak into the side of a chauffeur's cottage, sending chunks of plaster flying in the administrative offices housed there.
The storm damaged several other trees on the grounds, including a 250-year-old English oak estimated to be the oldest of its kind in the state, a rare European larch and an American beech. Boyce said it's too soon to tell if the trees will survive.
"There are limbs and tree branches everywhere," Boyce said. "It's littered with debris, and we've been running buzz saws all day."
Several centuries-old trees also were uprooted at Rokeby Farm outside Leesburg, another of Loudoun's historic landmarks, owner Ed Brennan said. The house, which is believed by some historians to have housed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for several weeks in 1814, was not damaged.
"I couldn't believe it. I've never seen this kind of damage," Brennan said. "It looked like a tornado hit it. These trees are 300 years old. There's no replacing them."
Fire officials said the storm also hit close to home, destroying the dog kennels and a satellite dish at their Courage Court headquarters.
Sharon Overstreet, who lives on Evergreen Mills Road outside Leesburg, said she and her husband had been out of town and arrived home Saturday evening to find that the wind had damaged their roof and even forced open locked, double doors.
"The wind was so intense our front door was blown into our house," Overstreet said. "It was an amazing thing."
The quick, heavy rain helped reduce demand over the weekend and increased the amount of water in Goose Creek, one of the sources of Loudoun's drinking water.
"It certainly helped," said Dale C. Hammes, of the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority, "but it is not by any means a drought-breaking rainfall, and that's what we really need. This type of rainfall every three or four days would make a great difference."
Hammes said the average daily water consumption for the 30,000 households served by the authority is down to about 12.4 million gallons a day. Before water restrictions were imposed Aug. 1, consumption averaged 16.3 million gallons a day.
The restrictions do not apply in western Loudoun towns or to residents with private wells. On Monday, voluntary water-use restrictions went into effect in Purcellville. Town Engineer Karin McKnight said the J.T. Hirst Reservoir--which, along with wells, supplies the town with water--has begun to drop despite reduced water use among many residents.
Voluntary restrictions also are in effect in Round Hill, with mandatory restrictions in Middleburg.
Staff writer Justin Blum contributed to this report.
CAPTION: David Boyce, acting director of Oatlands Plantation, surveys damage around the plantation's offices.
CAPTION: Sarah Forth-Smith, an intern, sweeps up debris in the former chauffeur's cottage, now offices at Oatlands Plantation.