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Laurel area still recovering from tornado

Nicholas Ciolino
Delaware Public Media

Clean up efforts in Southern Sussex County continue in the wake of Monday morning’s F2 tornado that roared through the towns of Laurel and Bethel.


The Red Cross, state agencies and neighbors are working to clear debris and provide needed resources to those affected by the twister.


County officials and the Laurel Fire Department say seven residences and two commercial buildings near Laurel have been condemned since the storm. Red Cross officials on the scene say the total number of condemned buildings has risen to 14.


Carl Hastings was living in a house with two friends on Seaford Road when the twister passed through.


“You could hear it kind of stating to whistle. You could feel it picking up and it started getting louder and the house started actually shaking. I was in the bed sitting and hollering, 'we’re in a tornado, we’re in a tornado,'” Hastings said.


Hastings's home was one of those condemned after the damage was assessed.


“Right now we’re staying with a friend’s mother and father. They were nice enough to open their doors. And we do have a connection with the state that’s supposed to be getting us a home. Actually today they said, maybe, that they could put us in a place. So that would be awesome,” said Hastings.


Road closures and power outages forced the shutdown of area schools Tuesday. So Laurel Elementary teacher Kim Insley decided to join members of the Red Cross, state agencies and other neighbors cleaning up debris from damaged homes on Seaford Road.


“Well actually we were looking to do anything we could to help, but we didn’t know if we had any students in the area," said Insley. "We would try to help them, take them to lunch if they were out here, but we do see any, so.”


State officials say damage from the tornado does not qualify Delaware for federal assistance, but the Department of Health and Social Services is assisting existing aid recipients in accessing housing and food.


Monday's tornado is the First State's first confirmed tornado since a twister touched down near Greeenwood in Sussex County in June 2017.

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