Several severe thunderstorms ripped through the state on Thursday. The first wave hit Dover around 9:30 a.m. and the second storm began roughly around 5 p.m. The storms brought torrential rain and high wind.
The storm left a wake of power outages, darkened traffic lights and debris in its wake. As a result of the severe weather a tree fell on to a house on North Bradford Street.
Donna and James Hutchins were out shopping when Donna Hutchins received a call from a neighbor telling her that a tree had fallen on her home. The house is 75 years old."
"I was surprised," she said. "That tree has been there awhile. My in laws lived there, so that tree has been there a long time."
Greg Akers, the City of Dover's chief building inspector, explained that under Thursday's circumstances, the uprooting of a tree isn't that surprising.
"When the soil is saturated and as wet as it is the roots have nothing firm to hold on to," Akers said. "The roots are the foundation of the tree. I would say all the elements of the storm came to play on it, a combination of wind and the fact that the ground is saturated."
Despite the fact that the storm left her unsure of whether or not she would be able to sleep in her own bed in the next few days, Donna Hutchins had a positive outlook.
"It could have been worse," she said. "We are very lucky, no one was hurt. This is just a little bump in the road."
As of 9:30 p.m. Nelson Tree Service, who has the tree removal contract with the city, was working to remove the fallen tree piece by piece, a process which Akers anticipated would take roughly three hours. The section of the 200 block of North Bradford Street where the house is located was blocked by traffic cones and police tape and is set to remain closed until the tree has been removed and possibly longer. Power was not affected by the falling of the tree.
Akers did a walkthrough of the house, but the tree needed to be cleared before he could fully assess the amount of structural damage the house had suffered.
"The inside is pretty well intact," Akers said. "I'm reluctant to say that it will stay intact, until the weight comes off the house because the concern is movement afterwards. Once the weight is removed you still have the potential for shifting and for things to happen."
Ann Marie Townshend, the City of Dover's Director of Planning and Community Development, further explained the process.
"Our Chief Building Inspector will do an assessment of the damage," she said. "he will determine whether they need any type of structural engineering report or whether it's just a matter of making the repairs."
Page 2 of 2 - Once the tree has been removed Akers explained that he would walk through the house once again to get an inside look.
Timothy Mullaney Jr., the City of Dover's deputy fire marshal explained that the next step is to address the Hutchins.
"The next step is to determine if the residents can reside here tonight or if they're going to have to relocate," said Mullaney.
Donna Hutchins has faith that she will soon be able to return to her home.
"The house is very old," she said. "It has stood the test of time and now it has stood with this. There's nothing really to stress or worry about. You just have to do what you have to do. We're just going to have to process everything and clean up."
Look for updated information on this story on Friday.