After summer storms, Delaware offers emergency funds to repair homes

Members of Team Rubicon, a volunteer group of veterans who respond to disasters, clear out storm damage near Dover earlier this month. (Courtesy of Team Rubicon)

Members of Team Rubicon, a volunteer group of veterans who respond to disasters, clear out storm damage near Dover earlier this month. (Courtesy of Team Rubicon)

“It was frightening,” said state Sen. Stephanie Hansen after a tornado cut a swath of destruction over 29 miles long through much of her Delaware district, stretching from Middletown and into Bear.

The tornado, spun out of Tropical Storm Isaias on Aug. 4, had a maximum wind speed of 105 miles per hour. The twister doubled the previous distance record of 13 miles, according to the National Weather Service.

“I had nine communities that were severely impacted,” Hansen said. “A lot of homes were missing roofs. They were missing rooms. Rooms had been blown out of the homes.”

No injuries or deaths were reported specifically from that tornado, but a woman in Milford in southern Delaware was killed by a falling tree.

More than 400 homes were damaged in the storms, with about 100 of those homes left unlivable.

“We are anticipating that the damage to residential structures from this week’s storms will be greater than we saw from Superstorm Sandy,” said A.J. Schall, Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency referring to the early August storm.

Thursday afternoon, Gov. John Carney signed an executive order reallocating money originally budgeted for the Dept. of Transportation and elsewhere. That move will create the Delaware Resiliency Fund, which will help pay for repairs to some of those damaged homes that weren’t covered by insurance. The money will also help DelDOT repair roads damaged by falling trees and washed out by flood waters. The amount of money transferred to the fund depends on the demand, according to Carney’s office.

“In my lifetime here, I don’t think I’ve seen that many tornadoes at one time wreaking that kind of damage,” Carney said.

Members of Team Rubicon, a volunteer group of veterans who respond to disasters, clear out storm damage near Dover earlier this month. (Courtesy of Team Rubicon)

The fund was originally slated to be created in Delaware’s budget process this year, but with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to the coronavirus, that didn’t happen.

DEMA will work through local community organizations to help families make repairs to their homes. The agency will also help those groups create a process for residents to ask for assistance from the fund.

State and local leaders have also been working with volunteers from Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that utilizes veterans to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises. Those volunteers are still working to clean up parts of the Dover area that were especially hard hit.

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