Laurel, DE (April 15, 2019) – Recovery operations continue in the immediate Laurel area this afternoon following a confirmed tornado and severe storms overnight left at least nine buildings severely damaged and condemned, and more than 350 households and businesses without power, some of which could stay dark until midday Tuesday.
Western Sussex County was hit especially hard, particularly along the US Route 9 corridor in an area generally from Portsville to Hardscrabble, as an intense line of thunderstorms rolled through the region during the early morning hours Monday, April 15. As many as two dozen structures were damaged during the severe weather, with roofs damaged, trees toppled, and utility poles snapped.
Of those, nine structures – seven houses and two commercial buildings – have been condemned and deemed unsafe for occupation by the Sussex County Technical Rescue team, which spent the day surveying and evaluating damage in the affected areas.
Despite the intense, localized damaged, no fatalities have been reported; only one person sustained minor injuries.
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., has preliminarily confirmed a tornado rated as an EF-2 with winds of approximately 120 mph traveled for just over 6 miles, carving a path of destruction that measured only 50 yards wide in some spots. The weather service will continue to evaluate data before making a final determination.
The Laurel Fire Department is coordinating the ongoing emergency response with numerous first responders, government agencies, public utilities, and other disaster response teams, and asks the public to be aware of ongoing operations to restore power, clear roads, and assist affected residents in the hours ahead. Numerous roads, including portions of Seaford Road (US 13A), Camp Road, and one of the southbound lanes of Sussex Highway (US 13), remain closed this afternoon as cleanup and restoration work continues. Motorists should follow posted detours, but avoid travel in these areas if at all possible.
For the latest road closure information, please visit www.deldot.gov.
Meantime, Delmarva Power reports that approximately 350 customers in the Laurel area are without service as of 3 p.m. Monday, with nearly 50 crew members expected to work around the clock to replace downed poles and lines. Service, though, could remain out to some customers through noon Tuesday. For the latest outage information, visit www.delmarva.com.
The American Red Cross is assisting those families and property owners affected by the storm.
Laurel Fire Department will provide further updates as warranted and as more information becomes available. Please follow the Laurel Fire Department’s website at www.laurelfiredept.com and Facebook page for updated information.
To report storm damage or non-emergency information, please contact (302) 856-7366.
For further information contact Mike Lowe Public Information Officer at 302-242-5789