Laurel, DE (April 16, 2019) – Rescue and recovery operations for the Laurel Fire Department and other first-responder agencies have now ended following the EF-2 tornado that carved a path of destruction across parts of southwestern Sussex County early Monday, April 15, but the cleanup is just beginning and will continue in the days and weeks ahead for those most directly affected.
Power companies, tree-trimming services, insurance adjusters, and disaster recovery crews have descended on the hardest-hit areas, particularly north of the Town of Laurel, to restore service and help those affected or displaced by the storm. As of midday Tuesday, April 16, Delmarva Power reported service had been restored to all properties capable of receiving power. Crews will remain on site over the next couple days cleaning debris and configuring the power network to ensure safe, reliable delivery of service.
As fire and EMS operations have concluded, the attention now shifts to cleanup and recovery. Delaware Gov. John Carney, who surveyed the damage with local and State emergency managers and elected leaders during a ground tour Tuesday, offered words of support to residents, and said the State will do whatever it can to lend assistance. Officials will gather damage reports and other data to forward to federal officials for disaster assistance consideration, though emergency managers cautioned the highly localized scale of damage may not be enough to warrant federal aid. Property owners and residents should work through their insurance providers first.
“My heart goes out to these folks, to see this kind of damage, it’s really devastating,” Gov. Carney said. “Again, you just feel really, really lucky.”
As many as two dozen structures were damaged during the severe weather in the early morning hours Monday, with roofs damaged, trees toppled, and utility poles snapped. The damage occurred mostly in an area that stretched for more than 6 miles, mainly along the northern edge of the US Route 9 corridor between Bethel and Hardscrabble. Of those, nine structures – seven houses and two commercial buildings – were condemned and deemed unsafe for occupation by the Sussex County Technical Rescue team.
Thankfully, only one person sustained minor injuries due to the storm. There were no fatalities.
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 hit the area beginning just after 3:30 a.m. Monday, as most people slept.
Most roads in the area affected by the storm and subsequent damage have since reopened, though some intermittent closures may remain as cleanup continues. Please visit www.deldot.gov for the latest traffic information. Meantime, the American Red Cross and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services are working with families and property owners affected by the storm.
To report storm damage or for other non-emergency questions, please contact the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center at (302) 856-7366.
The Laurel Fire Department is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community since this exceptional event. We look forward to resuming daily operations protecting the citizens of Laurel and surrounding communities.
For further information, contact Laurel Fire Department Public Information Officer Mike Lowe at (302) 242-5789.