Officials confirmed a fatality at a collapsed structure along Tuckers Road southeast of Greenwood, Sussex County. It’s the first confirmed death from a tornado in Delaware since 1983 according to the National Weather Service. Delaware State Police are currently investigating the death, as well as helping displaced residents and monitoring for criminal activity. Houses have also been reportedly damaged by the storm in New Castle County.
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), Delaware State Police, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, DelDOT, and numerous volunteer organizations have mobilized resources and personnel to respond to Saturday’s statewide damage from severe storms and likely tornado in Sussex County.
Initial reports indicate the tornado cut a 14-mile path of destruction from Bridgeville to Ellendale with widespread damage reported throughout western Sussex County. Preliminary assessments show at least two to three dozen homes impacted in Sussex County.
State officials are mobilizing volunteers including the Delaware VOAD and using drones to conduct preliminary damage assessments as of Sunday morning. The National Weather Service in Philadelphia/Mt. Holly also plans to conduct storm surveys on Sunday at locations in New Castle County and Sussex County, Delaware, as well as affected areas in New Jersey.
The American Red Cross is providing aid. The DHSS Office of Preparedness also set up two reception centers. DHSS is activating a call center for those affected by severe weather and in need of shelter, food, medical, or other assistance. The call center will be open from 9:30 am to 5 pm EDT Sunday, April 2, 2023. Call 1-866-843-7212.
Many areas are closed to traffic as officials conduct investigations, assess damage, and respond to the incident. Displaced residents returning to their homes are asked to be prepared to show identification.
Joe Thomas, director of Sussex County EOC, said reports of a tornado came in early last evening in the area from Bridgeville to Greenwood and Ellendale. Along with multiple requests for closed space rescue, county emergency officials and first responders conducted search and rescue operations before another severe thunderstorm came through and halted operations.
Power outages peaked at 6,000 customers but have mostly been restored and numbered in the low hundreds as of Sunday morning. DelDOT reported its Area 2 Yard at Newton Road sustained severe impacts and many buildings were heavily damaged. Newton Road is currently closed in that area and won’t be reopened until tomorrow.