Residents were forced to evacuate their homes on Monday, even as Timothy Kaine, the Governor of Virginia, declared a state of emergency for the areas of south-eastern Virginia.
"At least 200 were injured in Suffolk and 18 others were injured in Colonial Heights, south of Richmond," Bob Spieldenner from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.
Brian Hurley, NWS meteorologist, said: "One of the tornadoes hit the Lawrenceville area in Brunswick County, the second developed to the north of Colonial Heights and the other more significant tornado hit the city of Suffolk."
Dana Woodson, Suffolk city spokeswoman, said the area around Sentara Obici hospital and in the community of Driver, located within the city, were hardest hit. The hospital was damaged but still able to treat patients.
Dale Gauding, Sentara hospital spokesman, said about 60 injured people were being treated there and most were expected to be released.
Gauding said: "We have lots of cuts and bruises and arm and leg injuries."
Richard Hicks of Suffolk, one of the witnesses, said: "There are trees down everywhere and I've seen a half-dozen vehicles flipped over."
Robert Brinkley, another witness, said: "There are tops blown off the roofs of many houses."
Property damage was also reported in Brunswick County, one of several areas where the weather service had issued a tornado warning.
Police closed roads, steering people away from streets with downed powerlines.