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Isaias shakes up Dover: Widespread power outages continue with serious damage to electric lines, some houses

Shannon Bradford, 34, of Dover, stands in her pajamas near her neighbor's house on Lebanon Road, looking at the wreckage from her neighbor's property caused by Tropical Storm Isaias on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Many neighborhoods in Dover are still without power, including businesses and traffic lights, said Sgt. Mark Hoffman, public information officer for the Dover Police Department.

The widespread damage was the result of strong winds and a reported tornado from Tropical Storm Isaias.

As the city’s electric department is working to restore multiple outages, Hoffman asked residents to be patient since more minor issues will likely be delayed. “All our resources throughout the city are spread thin right now,” he said.

Outages started around 9 a.m., and the Dover Police Department was still running on a generator as of 1:45 p.m.

No injuries or fatalities have been reported due to the storm, Hoffman said. Most of the damage has affected utilities, power lines and trees with some damage to homes and businesses.

Dover’s Mayor Robin Christiansen said two buildings were condemned: William Henry Middle School on Carver Road and Union Missionary Baptist Church on Lincoln Street.

“It’s with the grace of God that no one got hurt,” Christiansen said.

The Dover Fire Department has responded to more than 50 calls in six hours, the department announced on its Facebook page this afternoon. 

Christiansen declared a state of emergency as the storm started around 9:30 a.m., encouraging people to stay off the roads. He said it will stay in effect until the city can make sure everyone is safe.

“My first goal and priority is to protect the citizens of Dover,” Christiansen said. He said he plans to talk about the damage with Gov. John Carney tonight.

Hoffman advised anyone who drives in the area to be cautious of the dark traffic lights and first responders responding to damage on the roads. Christiansen asked that people report fallen electric wires and do not touch them.

Electric poles and trees are down at the Division and Loockerman Street split in Dover. This is just down the street from William Henry Middle School, one of the condemned buildings after the storm.

While the strong winds ceased and the sun started to come out around 3 p.m., the city’s electric department asked people to continue to be cautious on the roads and be patient as many areas are expected to face extended power outages.

Assistant City Manager Matt Harline said the city estimates about 8,000 people were without power at the beginning of the day, and about 2,200 outages remained at 4 p.m. City staff hope to restore power to 95% of Dover by midnight.

“If [residents] wake up tomorrow morning, and they still don’t have power, go ahead and call that in,” Harline said. Anyone who notices that the electric meter or meter base is disconnected from their home must call an electrician first.

Crews from other municipalities and outside contractors are coming in now to help with the extensive damage. In some areas, power lines snapped and entire utility poles must be replaced, Harline said.

He said some of the worst damage is a “clear straight line” that went south to north from Kent Acres (between Camden and Dover) to Lincoln Park (near Forest and Division Streets) to the area of Walker Road.

‘In survivor mode’

Shannon Bradford, of Dover, said only two minutes remained until the warning for Isaias was slated to end, according to the alert she received on her phone this morning. 

Within that time frame, she began hearing a mighty gust of wind rushing toward her house. "It sounded almost like a growl," said the 34-year-old, who lives on Lebanon Road across from Calvary Church. 

Isaias left its mark on Bradford's home and yard, including damage to her front window, uprooting a small tree, and damage to her roof.

"At first I was completely devastated. It's been one of those years," she joked. "Now I'm in survivor mode, trying to get everything back to normal."

Bradford's front yard was a spectacle this morning. She said people's reaction to her situation was disappointing.

"Everyone was stopping and taking photos. But not one stopped to see if I needed help," she said.  

Her mom, Sandra Bradford, said only one couple checked to see how her daughter was doing. 

"They were in Hurricane Katrina back when that happened. They said they knew what it was like, so they offered to help [Shannon] for free if she needed it," her mom said. "I told them we were gonna wait for an assessment from the insurance company to see if they were gonna cover the cost of the cleanup."

Being mindful of others

Despite the troubling hurricane damage, the 34-year-old said it could've been worse. 

She was also concerned about her neighbors, because they're older than her. Bradford said it would be a big help if volunteers, like the couple who offered to help clean up her yard, could do the same for her neighbors, who aren't as young as her.

 "I'm lucky because my house wasn't as damaged like everyone else's next to me," said Bradford, whose neighbors had trees leaning against their homes. "I can't even believe that my car was untouched."