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Gov. Carney examines Sussex County tornado damage

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Governor Carney and State officials inspect the damage after a confirmed tornado on Saturday night, April 1 near Bridgeville. Early estimates reveal 60 buildings were damaged or destroyed over a 14-mile radius through Bridgeville, Greenwood, and Ellendale. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DELAWARE GOVERNMENT

Governor Carney and State officials inspect the damage after a confirmed tornado on Saturday night, April 1 near Bridgeville. Early estimates reveal 60 buildings were damaged or destroyed over a 14-mile radius through Bridgeville, Greenwood, and Ellendale. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DELAWARE GOVERNMENT

BRIDGEVILLE – Governor Carney and other officials from the state and Sussex County toured neighborhoods near Bridgeville after a confirmed tornado ripped through the area on the evening of Saturday, April 1. More than 60 buildings were either damaged or destroyed over a 14-mile course through the towns of Bridgeville, Greenwood, and Ellendale, according to preliminary estimates. Many structures at a DelDOT maintenance yard on Newton Road were damaged or destroyed, including one where winds tore a wooden beam out of the ground and shifted the concrete footing.

National Weather Service survey teams from Philadelphia/Mt. Holly arrived on the ground on Sunday and verified that a tornado had indeed moved over northwest Sussex County on Saturday evening; however, they have not yet calculated the wind speed or official severity rating.

One person was killed as a result of the severe weather, the first tornado-related death in Delaware in 40 years.

“My first reaction is we are really incredibly lucky. Lucky that more lives weren’t lost. We lost one person sadly. My heart and thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all the people that called him a friend.” Governor Carney said in a statement. “My second reaction is what an amazing place Delaware is because of the incredible outpouring of support from friends and family and neighbors in the residential areas that were affected. We were lucky that more homes weren’t destroyed and lucky that in the homes that were destroyed that people weren’t home.”

A.J. Schall, Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, thanked the Greenwood and Bridgeville Fire Companies, along with Sussex and Kent County Special Operations teams, and the many first responders and countless volunteers for their outstanding work in response to this significant weather event.

Schall reported state officials were working with organizations including the Delaware VOAD, American Red Cross, the Delaware State Fire School, and Sussex County Emergency Management officials to begin the recovery process by conducting door-to-door damage assessments and begin recovery and cleanup operations. Schall reported that volunteers quickly found many examples of “neighbors helping neighbors” in action.

“A lot of them had already started. There is a tremendous showing of support by the community. When we got out, there were already trailers filled with debris getting ready to get dropped off and there already were people going through their houses and starting to clean up.”

Schall reported state officials will now work with partner agencies to begin the longer-term process of case management and helping coordinate programs and support through volunteer organizations and government programs to address ongoing issues. The state will continue to work with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and American Red Cross and other groups to address ongoing mental health, medical, and social service needs in the community.

“We’ll work with Sussex County over the next weeks and months on the recovery and what we can do to help these communities,” Schall continued. “A number of people we talked with today are either staying with families and friends.”

Joseph Thomas, Director of Sussex County Emergency Operations, said, “Sussex County is an incredibly resilient place, where neighbors help their neighbors in need in times of crises. We are so grateful for the spirit of volunteerism and outpouring of incredible support that is on full display right now.”

Meanwhile, Sussex County requests property owners with any damage to submit reports, including photographs, to http://bit.ly/sussexdamage, or by using the included QR code. This will ensure emergency officials have as complete a picture as possible of the storm’s aftermath to use in any application for federal disaster assistance.

Those who have experienced adverse effects from this event and would like to request assistance or resources can contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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