National Weather Service confirms tornado hit Newark, Delaware

NEWARK, Del. - June 11, 2013

Officials say the path of yesterday's EF-0 tornado in Newark, Delaware was 150 yards wide and 4/10 of a mile long.

The twister had sustained winds of about 80 miles per hour.

On Tuesday, Larry Nierenberg of the National Weather Service explained why the damage spread far beyond the tornado's path.

"It was contained in a larger area of straight-line winds. There was a larger area of damage, and the tornado was just a small portion of that," he said.

A massive cleanup effort was underway Tuesday in the Robbscott Manor section of Newark, which was hardest hit by the twister.

New Castle County's Public Safety Director said he has never seen anything like this.

"My jaw dropped. I was here last night around 7 o'clock just before it got dark, and it looked like a war zone," said Joseph Bryant, Jr.

Margaret Boyle's home was among the hardest hit. She and her husband, Tom, were inside when part of her home was crushed by a massive tree.

"All I did was just scream," she said. "I kept screaming and screaming and screaming. But I'm thankful that we're both safe. You see it on TV, and you so feel so badly. Now I know. I know how badly they feel."


The extent of the devastation was already apparent Monday night before the sun went down. New Castle County emergency officials were on the scene surveying the damage as people in the community counted their blessings.

Amber Sudler, who lives in the Robscott Manor section of Newark, Delaware, tells us, "When we pulled up the tree was in the house and the kids just started crying."

Luckily Sudler and her family were not in their home when the heavy tree sliced through their roof and into their living room where their children would normally be playing. Tuesday morning, as she surveyed the damage, she was grateful no one was hurt.

Debris and downed power lines, which sparked small fires, littered the Newark and Bear areas as people ran for cover.

"I just went inside that closet until it was over, and it was a matter of seconds, minutes, whatever," said Sherry Hess of Newark.

Others in Woodland Village in Bear grabbed their cell phones and started recording. One viewer snapped an image of what appears to be a distinct funnel cloud.

"I was trying to get the dogs and stuff and next thing I know it was completely black. I saw stuff blowing out back. It was pretty crazy," said Patrick Simpkins.

"As soon as we got down to the basement, you heard, 'Wooooof!' And then you heard quiet. And I told them, 'Let me come up and check and make sure we have a house still,'" said Greg Vazquez.

Throughout the night and into Tuesday morning crews in Robscott Manor worked to clear away the debris. A team from the National Weather Service toured the neighborhood, determining a tornado had touched down.

Limbs were thrown into the wood chipper after heavy equipment hoisted sections trees off a roof on Argyle Road. A branch actually speared the side of a different house, slamming into a living room where a man sat with his baby. Down the street on Natalie Lane, a couple married for 35 years survived after a monstrous tree crashed down onto the house where they've lived for more than 30 years.

"He called me to come down. He said, 'Lay down, Peggy, get down on the floor.' Well, when I turned around to get down on the floor, here comes the tree," said Peggy Boyle.

"After all these years of marriage, she listened to me," said her husband, Tom Boyle. "Thank God for that."

Residents say the storm seemed to skip through the neighborhood at random. A massive tree and its limbs blanket one lawn, but by luck of the draw right next door barely a mark of the wild winds.

Delaware State Police said at least 6 families from the Robscott Manor neighborhood were out of their homes.

The Red Cross was helping some, others were staying with family. Surprisingly, emergency officials said no injuries were reported.

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