Wild weather rips through Sussex

Greenwood fatality Delaware’s first tornado-related death in four decades
April 2, 2023

Severe weather ripped through the Mid-Atlantic April 1, resulting in one fatality and thousands of households in the region without power. Weather officials issued a tornado watch for Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey starting at 5:30 p.m., April 1. It was the start of a wild weather night, with many eyewitness accounts of funnel clouds and reports of suspected tornadoes in Ellendale, Greenwood and Bridgeville. 

High winds and heavy rains caused widespread residential damage. Sussex County officials confirmed one fatality as a result of a collapsed structure along Tuckers Road southeast of Greenwood. Initial reports indicate the tornado cut a 14-mile path of destruction from Bridgeville to Ellendale, according to a press release issued by the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, with widespread damage reported throughout western Sussex County. Preliminary assessments show at least two to three dozen homes impacted in Sussex County. 

Gov. John Carney visited the Bridgeville area April 2 to survey the damage. He noted the death was the first tornado-related fatality in Delaware in 40 years.

“My first reaction is we are really incredibly lucky. Lucky that more lives weren’t lost,” he said. “We lost one person, sadly. My heart and thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all the people that called him a friend. My second reaction is what an amazing place Delaware is because of the incredible outpouring of support from friends and family and neighbors in the residential areas that were affected. We were lucky that more homes weren’t destroyed, and lucky that in the homes that were destroyed, that people weren’t home.”

A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, thanked the Greenwood and Bridgeville fire companies, along with special operations teams from Sussex and Kent counties, and the many first responders and countless volunteers for their outstanding work in response to this significant weather event.

Schall reported state officials will now work with partner agencies to begin the longer-term process of case management, and helping coordinate programs and support through volunteer organizations and government programs to address ongoing issues. The state will continue to work with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and American Red Cross and other groups to address ongoing mental health, medical and social service needs in the community.

The National Weather Service from Mount Holly, N.J., announced that the severe weather threat ended at 9 p.m., but a wind advisory remained through 2 a.m. As of 7:45 a.m., April 2, Delaware Electric Co-op crews were continuing to rebuild damaged infrastructure and restore power to its members. The April 1 storm knocked out power for 2,100 households. Report an outage at 855-332-9090 or go to See the outage map at  According to DEMA, power outages peaked at 6,000 customers but have mostly been restored and numbered in the low hundreds as of early April 2.

DEMADelaware State Police, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, DelDOT and numerous volunteer organizations are mobilizing resources and personnel to respond to statewide damage from severe storms and likely tornado in Sussex County. State officials are mobilizing volunteers including the Delaware Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and using drones to conduct preliminary damage assessments. The National Weather Service in Philadelphia/Mt. Holly also plans to conduct storm surveys at locations in New Castle County and Sussex County, as well as affected areas in New Jersey. The American Red Cross is providing aid. The DHSS Office of Preparedness also set up two reception centers.

Sussex County is requesting property owners with any damage to submit reports, including photographs, to This will ensure emergency officials have as complete a picture as possible of the storm’s aftermath to use in any application for federal disaster assistance.

Video is courtesy of Jody Hartzell.


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